29. Supporting the Living Situation of a Child with Significant Disability

Background This 9 year old girl with a diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome developmental delay and generalised learning difficulties stayed at home with her mother and a much older sister. The child’s mother has a long history of alcohol use resulting in the child’s oldest half sisters being accommodated then adopted. There were on going concerns regarding neglect and emotional abuse of this child and she was placed on the Child Protection register. Due to the child’s additional support needs she attended a Nurture Group in a mainstream school with a high level of additional support. However, the child was frequently late for or missed school and did not enjoy good social opportunities at home. Solution Focused Approaches A respite package was introduced including community based and overnight respite to give the child an opportunity to access different social opportunities and increase her life experiences. The child’s overnight carer quickly became a significant person in her life. The planned monthly respite became emergency unplanned respite for the child when her mother could not care for her due to her poor health caused by increasing alcohol use. The decision was taken that it was no longer in the child’s best interest to remain at home due to the severity of the ongoing concerns.  The child was placed with her respite carer on a Child Protection Order, and continues to stay there as subject of a Supervision Order. In the first 2 months of staying with the carer, the young girl made significant progress in all areas of her development. This included adopting a good sleep pattern which allowed her to attend school everyday, no longer tired or agitated. She became toilet trained and her verbal communication increased. The child has been considered and approved for permanence and the respite carer who has cared for her for over 14 months has highlighted she wishes to care for her permanently.
Range of Strategies From the time the child’s name was first placed on the Child Protection Register there were many different resources and approaches introduced to keep her at home. These included: • core group meetings when all involved met every 6 weeks; • on evolving Core Plan which required the some people to meet weekly so that tasks and goals were achieved in a shorter period of time; • various Social Work staff were involved to provide respite, after-school clubs and groups for the child to attend, to give her different social opportunities and peer interaction, and to give her mother a break; • a Sure Start worker was involved to encourage positive play at home, although the child’s mother was reluctant to participate; • various assessments undertaken to highlight risk and plan they way forward for the future; • intensive Community Assessment was undertaken in conjunction with PACT/ Action for Children and this supported the decision to accommodate the child away from home. From the time that the child was accommodated: • there have been regular Looked After Child reviews to monitor the suitability of placement and Children’s Hearings (mainly requested by mother) to review the Supervision Order. Partnership Working During the process of determining what was in the child’s best interest, there was a multi­ agency approach with health, education and the Voluntary Sector who supported other agencies in keeping the child at home with her mother. They were also influential in the decision to accommodate the child. In order to more fully meet the child’s educational needs, including providing additional Speech & Language Therapy, she was transferred to a Specialist Educational provision.

Successful Outcomes included:

  • after trying many interventions to support the child at home, her accommodated situation allowed more consistent routine;
  • the child’s challenging behaviour at school reduced;
  • she became toilet trained;
  • her verbal communication increased;
  • she had more opportunities for social opportunities including the corer’s grandchildren visiting frequently, enabling positive peer interaction;
  • she attended community groups such as Brownies, Drama group and is now very well included in all aspects of her life.
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