Jesy, aged 17, Perrie, aged 15, Jade, aged 12 and Leigh-Anne aged 9 are all sisters.
Jade and Jesy
Jade lives with foster carers and Jesy was in foster care too but now she is back living with her mum and dad. She doesn’t have Children’s Hearings any more but Jade does. Contact between Jade and Jesy is regulated by Jade’s Compulsory Supervision Order (CSO). Jade has a Children’s Hearing coming up and Jesy wants to attend. Jesy feels that she and Jade don’t get to see each other enough and she would like the panel to say in Jade’s CSO that there should be more regular contact between them. Jesy doesn’t have the automatic right to attend Jade’s hearing as she does not have ‘relevant person’ status. Jesy can speak to a lawyer about what her options are. A lawyer could explain to Jesy that a relevant person is someone who has (or recently had) a significant involvement in Jade’s upbringing. Jesy thinks she might meet this definition because she helped look after Jade before Jade was taken into care. Jesy’s lawyer can make an application on her behalf to be ‘deemed a relevant person’ and can guide her through the process.
If the panel agree that she does meet the definition, Jesy will have the right to attend all of Jade’s future hearings. She will also have some other rights e.g. to appeal decisions made by the panel which her lawyer can explain to her.
If the panel decide that Jesy should not be deemed a ‘relevant person’, she can still ask to go along to Jade’s hearings to give her views about contact. This is also something her lawyer can help her with.
Perrie lives in a different local authority to her sisters and has been told that she is not allowed to travel to see them in person due to COVID-19 restrictions. Perrie also has Children’s Hearings and her CSO says she is to have regular contact with her sisters. Under the current guidelines, there are exceptions which mean face to face contact can still take place where there is a legal order saying it is to happen, even when it means travelling between different local authorities. Perrie could speak to a lawyer to help her with this issue and to try to get face to face contact happening again.
Leigh-Anne is staying with a foster family. She has been there for a few years. Social work have said that they are going to ask the court to make a Permanence Order (PO) so that she can stay with her current foster family long term. However, her sisters have noticed that since they heard about the court case, they are getting to spend less and less time with Leigh-Anne. Leigh-Anne’s sisters all feel it is really important that they get to keep seeing Leigh-Anne regularly so that they can protect their relationship as sisters, even though they won’t be living together.
Leigh-Anne’s sisters could speak to a lawyer about this to find out what their options are to try and keep more contact with Leigh-Anne even if the Permanence Order is granted. A lawyer can explain to them that the court has to consider what effect granting the order may have on Leigh-Anne and her siblings. A lawyer may also be able to help Leigh-Anne’s sisters have their say in the court case if they would like to.