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Case Study: Get me a home… I don’t want these parents… – Part of #SWSCmedia Case Study Series – SWSC media

Jan is 16 years old and has no siblings. Her parents are divorced and live separately from a year ago when Jan reported her father for domestic violence. The father now lives with his new wife who is 4 months pregnant. He and Jan are not on good terms due to Jan reporting him for domestic violence.

Jan’s mother was a successful solicitor who left her career after Jan was born. Jan’s mother owns and operates a boutique in London, however, she has advised the local authority that due to economic situation in the country she is facing serious financial difficulties in her business and therefore, is in no condition to provide separate accommodation for her daughter.

Jan goes to one of the most exclusive and expensive schools in the country, however, given the reduced financial resources of the family after her father’s departure and the unsuccessful attempt to obtain any funding, scholarship, or sponsorships for her studies Jan will have to change her school from next year.

Three months ago Jan attempted suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping tablets, and ever since she  has been offered additional support by local authority, including three times a week psychotherapy sessions by one of the best known psychiatrists and psychotherapists in the country. The psychiatrist recommendation is that Jan needs to live separate from her mother to have the time to address her own issues.

Jan has now told the local authority that she does not want to go home and that she can no longer live with her mother, and that the local authority should give her an appropriate home. Jan is temporarily staying at a friend’s house awaiting the local authority’s decision about a new home for her. Jan can continue to stay with her friend for another week, however, her friend has indicated that Jan will have to move to her own place after that.

There is a strategy meeting to discuss Jan’s situation and decide the way forward. You are the social worker assigned to the case. What is your analysis of the situation and what are your suggestions/recommendations for the strategy meeting?

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3 thoughts on “Case Study: Get me a home… I don’t want these parents… – Part of #SWSCmedia Case Study Series – SWSC media

  1. Think, that, Jan will experience love loss and need in mother’s love, care and attention more, when she be parted from her for a longer period and further distance. It is crucial, from my point of view, to try to reconnect mother with daughter. Psychotherapists or psychologists that are involved in this problem solving process may be helpful in refining the relations between two, as it may provide the sense of protection and support to Jan, from the closest person. Especially, considering the fact that she is 16 years old. That may erase at least emotional distress and feelings of loneliness and superfluousness.

    Posted by Aysel Sultan | May 6, 2012, 4:58 pm
  2. Tricky. As a result of all the legal authorities – notably Lambeth and Southwark, Jan is a young person, a child in need, who is about to require accommodation under s20 of the Children Act 1989. My view would be that the LA do have a duty to accommodate her (and that can’t be legally sidestepped – though in practice, many young people in this position find themselves helped across the road to the Housing Department rather than entering s20), but there are the twin strands of ongoing psychiatric and psychotherapeutic support (from the best in the country, no less) and the expensive schooling. Both of those have potential to be very costly for the LA, or by not funding them, putting additional pressure on a child they are looking after. I would not be suprised to find the outcome being a task-centred piece of work to get mum and Jan back together.

    As the parents both work, there’s the very little-used power under Schedule 2 para 21 of the Children Act 1989 to recover some maintenance contributions from them towards the cost of accommodating Jan.

    Another approach would be to see if the friend with whom Jan is currently staying would be able to continue that arrangement and it be a Private Fostering arrangement (perhaps with some section 17 financial support)

    That’s it from a legal perspective. From a child protection perspective, there’s no external risk from the parents towards this child, the risks arise from the child’s own emotional and mental health state (which may well have the parental care/breakdown of the family relationship as an underlying cause)

    Posted by suesspiciousminds | May 6, 2012, 5:13 pm
  3. As a LCSW and once upon a time foster mother of over 300 kids needing temporary care, many in this young woman’s situation, I think the one and first option is to follow Jan’s lead. What does she want, who does she think she can live with, who of the ones she things she can live with will have her, would transfer to a school of her choice help, does she want her own apartment?

    It has always boggled my mind that what a teen thought might work was summarily dismissed by most professionals. It was similar to what I experienced when I went into a treatment facility or planning meeting as a foster mother instead of a Columbia University School of Social Work professor. I could say the same thing, be heard in one role and dismissed in the other. My professorial role was never dismissed. Foster mother? Forget it.

    The long term plan as noted above would to help her work through the mourning and re-mourning process so she can let go of any problems time to her parents and get on with her life.

    Posted by parentsfriend | May 20, 2012, 3:35 pm

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