The biological mother has abandoned the child since 8 months old while the biological father is not interested at all. The child was raised by the maternal grandmother, to whom the court has given the right of custody. Currently the grandmother and the child together have sought help as they live in terrible conditions in a barrack, where there is neither electricity nor drinking water. From the information gathered from the community, it turns out that sometimes the two would move to an apartment to live with the grandfather and other members of the extended famile, but when grandparents start arguing, they move back to the barrack.
The Grandmother has applied for economic assistance, but the documents show that the child is staying in a family with two grandparents, each receiving a pension, total amount of which is no more than 23000 ALL /180 Eu a month. Also the grandparents appear to have a property of 39200 m2 of agricultural land, a property which is divided between 9 people. All documentation submitted by the grandmother does not meet the requirements to benefit from the economic assistance scheme. Neither can they benefit from the decision nr. 89 dated 26.01.2013 "On defining the criteria of documentation for the caregiving service” because the Court decision has given an individual guardianship (to the grandmother) and not to the whole family.
The girl goes to school and the family has been helped with various types of aid. Nevertheless, this is not enough and the grandmother reports that only with her pension she is unable to care for the girl, given that the grandfather does not contribute at all. Therefore has to require that the girl is accommodated in a residential center.
Given that the interest of the child is to stay close to the family, what shall the Child Protection Unit undertake?
Addional information provided during the discussion
The presenter provided some additional information about the case to better clarify the situation of the child. The family the child lives with includes not only the grandparents but also her uncle, aunt and their families. The child seems to have a good relationship with the extended family who appear supportive towards her. However, the grandmother is the legal guardian of the child.
Key recommendations and lessons learned
As a first step, the case management team should conduct a full assessment of the case, including the risks the child may face.
The Risk assessment should be undertaken based on:
- Detailed information about the safety of the child (how safe is she under the current the situation when occasionally she leaves the house together with the grandmother due to the conflicts between her grandparents?)
- Assessment of the needs of the child (emotional and health condition, the way she perceives her current situation, relations with peers).
- Assessment of the abilities of her legal guardian – the grandmother to fulfill her duties (is she able to offer adequate care to the child; how are the relations between them, etc.)
- Detailed analysis the situation of the extended family and the relations that exists between them and the child (education, employment and income).
- The opinion of the child for all the above elements, including how she perceives relations with the grandmother and other members of the family. This is one of the key elements in the assessment process.
- The opinion of the family members, other persons close to family and the teacher on the situation of the child.
- A clarification of the legal aspects of the custody of the child and whether the guardianship has been established based on a court order.
The actual discussions on the case were based on the existing information which relates primarily to the economic situation of the family and the request for economic support from the grandmother, as well as the relationship between the grandparents.
The expert was of the opinion that it is in the best interest of the child to remain with her grandmother and the extended family. This, based on the information that the extended family is supportive of the child and the request of the grandmother for additional support due to her age and health conditions.