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"Is it possible to have a new case worker?"

About: Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services

(as a carer),

I began a fostering partnership with my mother, and we took on our first full time placement of three children. We were their foster carers for a few years before they were moved to a different placement.   Over the time I developed a relationship with the children's father.  Communication regarding this information was provided to the children's case worker.  My mother and I were asked to come in for a meeting, and at that meeting we were told that the children had been taken to a new foster placement.

I have now married the children's father.  The father was allowed to solo contacts with them at the department mid last year, and then they did not have any contact for several months, but contact began again in a few months later, however he only gets one to two hours with his extended family once a month which makes it so difficult for him to bond with his children when he has to share limited time with his parents, sisters, nieces and nephew. He has been trying to get solo contacts and extra time with the children to no avail. He has stated that he is willing to do whatever the department would like him to do, and recently he was asked if he would like to do a ten week parenting course for men, where you attend a session once a week and at the end there is an excursion for the fathers and their children. He has been attending the course for several weeks now, however when his instructor contacted the department about the excursion, we believe the case worker said the children are not allowed to attend as they would have to leave school early on that day - leaving my husband shattered. I believe school is important for children, however I think there would be no harm in missing a couple of hours, as being given a chance to bond with their father is also very important.

I have been asking for contact with the children and that the department have asked their counsellors to work with the children about me being reintroduced into their lives.  Recently I was given a contact decision letter stating I was allowed to begin written communication and that this would be reviewed.  I had sent birthday cards and presents to the children.  As I had not heard anything or been given any feedback, I emailed and asked the case worker how the children were handling my letters etc and was told that only the letters and not the presents had been passed on, as the case worker did not want me to attempt to buy the children's affections. I am devastated that children did not receive their birthday gifts. I was their foster mother for a few years and I am their step mother now - I do not feel like I need to buy their affections with gifts. To me wherever I go, whatever I do, I am constantly wishing my children were there with me, and wanting to buy them things - that is just a part of motherhood.

My mother and I were given a harm report because the department believed that moving the children hurt them deeply emotionally, and as a result I am no longer able to be a carer, and am not able to return to my career or continue my study,  as my blue card was taken away. I am not denying that my husband and I are partly responsible for the children's hurt, but I believe that a lot of people including the children's case worker, family members etc contributed to the end result of the children's placement with me.

My husband and I both feel that the children's case worker is biased towards us, and that things are twisted to the case workers advantage to make things as hard for us as possible.

Are we able to make a request for a new case worker? I know that the children's file will follow them but perhaps we could have a case worker who would be able to look at the facts with what we believe will be an unbiased eye. When the children changed placements they changed catchment zones, can we force the children to be changed to the new department office? My husband and I want the children back home with us, but as they are on a long-term order the department, we believe, are not interested in reunifying. Is there a way to have the order changed to short-term without taking the department to court?

I miss the children so much every day - I want to see them so much. It is too long to go without seeing the people that you love most in the world.

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