I''m very tired, having not slept for about 30 hours (note to self, pepsi max is caffeinated. Don''t drink with dinner) so my fuse is a bit shorter than normal, but here''s the situation:
Son is 3 years old. He is eligible for a free 15 hours of nursery education from September 3rd. At the beginning of August we had a hearing because ex wanted to move 60 miles away. She''s made arrangements for him to start nursery in the new town. Permission was refused. My son will now remain in the current locality at least after the start of the school term.
There had been an earlier recording that neither party would formally register my son in nursery which the magistrates removed/dismissed/voided. They wrote in their record of the hearing that they believe that my son could attend attend a nursery in the current area.
I then went and visited all of the local private nurseries in the area and wrote a letter to ex''s solicitor outlining each nursery''s availability, any significant information and my overall impressions. I also included Ofsted inspection reports of the nurseries. I also included what I knew about school nurseries as I had done research before the summer holiday. I wrote that I felt that to delay my son starting nursery would be detrimental to him and that the matter should be considered urgently.
I am aware that registering him in nursery in this locality would benefit my case as he would be more firmly established in this area.
I got a response to my letter which stated that the solicitor is on holiday until 3rd September, so they can''t comment on the matters but indicated that they want to discuss it at the next hearing (after the start of term) and with CAFCASS, who are going to be ordered to compile an addendum report at the next hearing.
I thought I''d get in there first and discuss the issue with the CAFCASS officer now. I also asked whether I could register my son for a nursery in my contact time because I think it''s in my son''s best interest.
CAFCASS officer (who I have previously stated on here is not fit for the job) went away ''to get advice'' and came back to me with this "You can''t register him for nursery because you don''t have a residence order" to which I pointed out that there is no residence order, so surely someone can register him for nursery. She just said that the information had come direct from her manager. I am sure this is not correct, surely I have the power, as I have PR, to register him for a nursery if my ex chooses not to in order to benefit her case?
I also challenged her on why she didn''t turn up at court despite being ordered to (yes, it was a court order, not directions). She said she didn''t know anything about it and blamed computer problems at CAFCASS (I call bullsh*t).
I asked her about the content of the report because I would have contested it had she turned up. Essentially the report reads like this:
Mother says my step son (8 years old) does not want contact with me.
My step son obviously does not have a strong attachment to me.
Recommend no contact.
I pointed out that she hadn''t spoken to my step son so how can she be sure that''s true. She replied by saying that she recommended no contact because both mum and bio dad are opposed to contact so neither will facilitate contact. I swear to god that''s not in the report at all (if it was I would have been unhappy, but would have accepted her logic). She said that she initially wrote it in the report but edited it out later (I call bullsh*t... again).
I then asked her about indirect contact. She said (and I swear I''m not even joking) "I didn''t think of indirect contact."
Seriously? Is she taking the pi$$? How can a CAFCASS officer recommend no contact without exploring any of the alternatives? To me that''s just incompetence.
Anyway, the magistrates wrote in their findings that ''had the CAFCASS officer been present we would have significant questions re the report'' [emphasis added]. Even the magistrates thought the report was inadequate.
OK, that''s the rant part done, so how can people help, other than sympathy and empathy?
How do I get my son into nursery? I spoke to CAFCASS 6 weeks ago where I stated that I felt my son''s social skills and speech were significantly behind where they ought to be. I said I thought that he should be attending nursery, or at the very least the free local play groups. Now the mother hasn''t got her own way she''s being stubborn to benefit her case and won''t register him.
There is a Directions hearing in 2 weeks. Do I just wait until then to raise it?
Do I make a specific issue application for him to be registered at a nursery and ask for it to be dealt with at the hearing in 2 weeks? Bear in mind that they haven''t yet refused outright, they''re just procrastination/prevaricating on the issue.
So frustrating that my son is going to miss out on education and social time with other children which he clearly needs in order to benefit my ex''s application to move house.
Are you talking about a nursery education funded place for your son (free 15 usually 3 hours per week term time only) or if a private provider mixed in with private care or 3 x 5 hour sessions? If so then yes this first tranch starts in September (children''s ''bums on seats'' head count day 04/10 I believe). However, there will and should be places available from January also (spring term), so all is not lost. But you are right that interaction with other peers and ''education'' conten is invaluable for children ensuring that they are school ready and helping them in their development. Also yes it would help your case.
Re CAFCASS is she new? Knowledge is the key here if you can investigate and find out exactly what they should do and how the should do it etc etc then you will be armed with the correct questions to ask either the officer, court or her supervisor.
You do need to de-personalise the whole cafcass issue though, you say the offer is ''not fit for the job'' that may be the case, or she may be new, under way too much pressure from the job, unable to apportion the correct amount of time to cases etc, but talking to her / suggesting in your speach / actions that you think she is not fit for the job won''t help your case at all. You need to get her on side, phrase questions as questions not statements etc. treat her as a ''bad'' boss, you do have to jump to her tune at the moment, frustrating I know but will only help your case if you keep all evidence of decisions etc etc to use in court / for supervisor and / or you might find that by being ''nicer'' (wrong choice of words but cannot think) that you actually bring her round to helping you.
I cannot imagine how you feel, I am thankful that I am a RP as would be done for stalking my kids if I wasn''t dont have that issue with my x and tbh would love it if there were more contact, (very hit and miss - breaks your heart but i can live in the hope it will get better) mind you cost me a fortune in sch uniform today
Thanks for the tips. I''ve kept it all very friendly so far. I haven''t criticised her to her face or anything like that, but I did come on here for a bit of a rant. I haven''t called the officer incompetent though, as much as I''ve wanted to! I think you''ve hit it on the head with treating her like a bad boss though.
She is new (less than 6 months at CAFCASS), but if she can''t do the job then she''s been released from training too soon. I''m never going to say that to her of course, but writing a report that doesn''t address the issues, doesn''t explain the reasoning for the recommendations, fails to consider the range of options available and then failing to turn up at court when ordered to defend that report goes beyond inexperience in my opinion.
Yes I was talking about the 15 hours funded place. It can be taken in a private nursery or a school nursery, though private nurseries are more flexible about the hours (doesn''t have to just be 3 hours per day). There are places for September but he might miss out if they keep delaying it.
I would love more contact but at the moment the ex will not consent to any extra contact at all so I''m limited to one weekday per week.
Thanks for the tips.
I just cannot believe that what she''s said is true - that I need a residence order to register him in nursery in my contact time
I supose as the NRP they don''t expect that you would enroll your son at a nursery, unless there was shared residence or like you say a residency order.
If you did register him would it not be the case that him mum would potentially ignor it and perhaps use it against you as controlling? You are right re education and peer contract perhaps you have to ome at it from that angle?
As for the bad boss, I have someone that I have contact with through work like this, don''t know what I did but the relationship is not particularly good, I find that being nicer that nice has worked most but it''s hard work. Also I know this is wrong, but like many jobs it may be the case that the CAFCASS officers have to learn on the job - unlucky but not a lot that you can do about it unfortunately.
Perhaps Fiona may know more on how to handle this issue, or khan / (begins with an F) sorry escapes me.
Is there anything stopping you from enrolling your son with a private nursery? I mean, when you went to the private nurserys, did they suggest they wouldn''t let you register him? I''m thinking. That you could just go ahead and enrol him in a nursery during your contact time, if you are having regular contact time with him, that fits in with availability in the nursery. I don''t think this would be viewed as controlling 1) it is in your time, so wouldn''t have an effect on your ex''s time with her son; 2) you already supplied details of the nurserys you are considering to your ex via solisitors so have proven you are attempting to get her opinion.
Wait until someone more experienced answers, but really IMO I can''t see why you can''t go ahead and enrol him. I enrolled my girl in nursery without the nursery asking any questions abut father, pr, residence ord etc. (I suppose I acted unilaterally in some views, but we did discuss where she would go before we separated, so I just acted on this) I know it''s different as I am rp, but still....no questions wre asked about it. And all the nursery will be concerned about is that the free 15 hours aren''t being claimed elsewhere, which you know they are not.
Hope some one more experienced and knowledgeable comes along soon, and Good luck xx
u6 - I agree that no residence order is needed to register a child at a nursery, most parents, thankfully, don''t have the need for formal orders. However, could the provision of the free place be linked to reciept of child or other child related benefit? If so, then it''s an obstacle. To get the place may mean the parent in reciept of those benefits has to sign forms? Am only speculating, don''t realy know. In your shoes I would raise the issue at the next Directions hearing rather than acting unilaterally
I don''t think that for NEF there is a need for any benefit proof etc (that is for the 2 year old funding and other funding) there are forms to fill in regarding the child, as these go to the LA and are used as proof to pay the centre that the child attends.
For that reason then I supose if the time your son goes to the nursery is on your time then and your ex hasn''t put him in a nursery then no I cannot see why you could not enroll your son, it could also be used to show how you value the ''educational'' aspect and peer intergration. Be careful of the forms thoug and what the ask for, I cannot remember how they are phrased tbh.