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(Family Division, Peter Jackson J, 26 June 2013)
The local authority applied for care orders in respect of two children, aged 9 and 4. A fact-finding hearing concluded that the parents had been reckless and incompetent in their management of the older child's asthma and as a result she had suffered significant physical and emotional harm. She had been subjected to years of unnecessary treatment and had learned to think of herself as a sick child.
The children were currently living with their grandparents and the older child had experienced a remarkable improvement in her health and well-being. The parents sought a return of the children to their care and had been having regular contact. They had also been attending psychotherapy sessions to improve their understanding of the situation.
A psychological assessment of the parents found that they had little insight into their actions and only a superficial acceptance and understanding of the findings. The local authority and the guardian concluded that the children should remain with the grandparents and continue having contact with the parents.
Prior to the hearing to consider special guardianship the school reported that the children had been having unsupervised contact with the parents and had stayed with them overnight. All family members initially denied that unauthorised contact had taken place but the mother later confessed that it had.
The local authority care plan, supported by the guardian, was for both children to be removed to a foster placement with a view to a placement application being made in relation to the younger child.
The parents did not have capacity to care for the children and they had only just started on the process of understanding the needs of the children. It was not clear how much progress they were capable of making. While the grandparents had provided good day-to-day care of the children, previous assessments had been unduly optimistic given the previously unknown attitudes of the grandparents and of the family's overall plan. Evidence of the grandparents demonstrated that they were unable to put the needs of the children above family loyalties. It was in the best interests of the children to move to a foster placement. The judge made care orders and approved the local authority care plan.
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