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Parental Responsibility Question


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Help, oh wise people!! I have 2 tricky situations....

 

Child nearly 2yrs old, unmarried parents split up a year ago. Dad has NO contact. Mum doesn't want his details on our registration form at all... I've explained the legal view but she's insistent and getting very upset :o

 

Says he is biological father and nothing else, has no contact through his own choice, didn't want XXX when they were together and certainly doesn't want XXX now........ knows I have to ask the question but she'd rather give notice than complete his details!

 

It's SO unlikely that the Dad would ever try to collect his child from me that it seems madness to have upset Mum this way - I feel terrible xD

 

All I can find is that it is a statutory requirement of EYFS. I am breaking the law if I do not ask the question and write down the answer.... SO, can I write down "refuses to give details" ???????????????

 

Next, divorced parents, both have PR and regular contact. Mum has added her boyfriends details as the 4th emergency contact but Dad doesn't want this! Have explained it's HIGHLY unlikely I'd ever have to call on the 4th contact. What would you suggest?

 

Nona

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OOOH Nona never had these scenarios so am no help but will watch and learn!

 

Just goes to show you can plan as much contingency as you like and something new will always come along :)

 

 

Quick Edit to say that our job is sooo complicated. We take copies of the birth certificate to prove PR and absent fathers are fairly common these days...can a parent be forced to give contact details? What about those who genuinely don't know where they are (or tell us they don't)

Edited by gingerbreadman
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Tricky.

I'd get mom to sign that she's been asked for the infromation and has refused to give it. I'd also get her to sign that she understands that with PR you would be legally obliged to give dad access if he ever arrived to collect. Obviously you'd need strong proof of who he was and in that instance you would phone mom.

 

The second one I'm looking at from my brothers point of view. His ex has a boyfriend, who my neice and nephew are going to be living with. My brother hates how he gets pushed out at times because the BF is attending events with the ex and the children. Its also a matter of trusting that the other man in your children's life is going to be good to them. On the other hand, we all want the children to have a stable life and having the BF involved might make this more likely.

I'd speak to mom again. Explain that dad has PR and as such has a legal voice and his wishes are just as valid as her's. But you could also speak to dad and help him to understand that the BF, if he's regular and committed, might be a good thing for the children. Does she have to put a 4th contact?

 

Can you speak to Lawcall? I spoke to them once over a similar case. I didnt do what they said because common sense made me listen to my head, but it was helpful to hear another point of view. I just backed up my decision with a note in the family file. Nothing ever came of it.

 

Wouldnt it be lovely if people just got along?

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Wouldnt it be lovely if people just got along?

 

 

Rea, it would be a beautiful place to live wouldn't it....and a much easier working life LOL!

 

What a lovely thought!! :(

 

I think at the moment I'm going to record everything - my request, Mum's responses and my subsequent investigations and encourage Mum to leave things as they are until we get a definitive answer.

 

I may well try LawCall tomorrow, had wondered about asking Ofsted but then it's "official" and may make a bad situation worse :o

 

Rea, thanks for your thoughts. There's no obligation to have a 4th contact - when it's due for renewal I think I'll amend the registration form for this family to 3 contacts xD

 

I'll keep you posted when I get the legal viewpoint.

 

Nona

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Child nearly 2yrs old, unmarried parents split up a year ago. Dad has NO contact. Mum doesn't want his details on our registration form at all... I've explained the legal view but she's insistent and getting very upset

 

 

 

If they weren't married do you actually need his details as does he have parental responsebility ? I know this is a nightmare but it was my understanding that they had to be married or dad named on the birth certificate.

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Parental Responsibility (PR) the legal view...

 

A married couple who have children together both automatically have PR.

PR continues after divorce.

Mothers automatically have PR.

Unmarried parents - the father has PR if: his name is registered on the birth certificate (after 1 Dec 2003) or he later marries the mother or both parents have signed an authorised Parental Responsibility Agreement or he obtains a Parental Responsibilty Order from the court or he obtains a Residence Order from the court or he becomes the child's legal guardian.

If a child is taken into LA care the LA automatically have PR and if a Residence Order is made to another relative i.e. grandparents then they get PR

 

I wish I'd been given all this information before I was instructed to add this to my Registration Form, it's caused masses of grief and upset for the Mum and myself and, once again, I'm left wondering why we childcarers are expected to have the knowledge and expertise to deal with this?!

 

Yet another hat to wear!! :o

 

Nona

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Just another perspective to add here. I once received a phone call out of the blue from the biological father of a child who stated that I would be receiving a letter from his solicitor to insist that his rights as the child's father be asserted in terms of receiving information etc, and demanding that I change the child's name on all my paperwork since the mother and her new partner had changed the child's surname without his permission.

 

Up until that point I had no idea the details on the registration form were incorrect - at that point I didn't have a question on my form about parental responsibility. Now my form just asks "does this person have parental responsibility" on the contact form, and once all the contact details have been given "does anyone else have parental responsibility?". In your case nona, the mother would simply say 'no' to the last question and you wouldn't need to ask any other information.

 

This may appear to be a 'head in the sand' approach, but it does draw a line between asking the parent for information and intruding into what could be a difficult personal situation. As you say, it is highly unlikely that this child's father will turn up, and in any case if his details aren't on the form you wouldn't be able to let the child go with them anyway. I think your point about documenting all the conversations you've had with mum is a good one - at least that way you know exactly who said whet to do and when!

 

I'll be interested to see what Lawcall have to say - this raises some serious questions about how far we can go in ascertaining accurate information about children's lives.

 

Maz

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It's been quite an evening of research and tearful texts from the poor Mum xD

 

So far all we've been able to confirm is that the EYFS states that we must make a record of who has parental responsibility and legal contact with the child. This is the law, it is not optional. You are legally required to ask for these details and should put the questions on either your Contract or Child Information Form (if you write your own forms). If your forms do not have these questions, you must add them either to the form or to a piece of paper that you give to parents at the same time or you will be breaking the law. This might mean you get an unsatisfactory in your Ofsted inspection.

 

Only one childminding site asks "What if parents refuse to give me the details?" but doesn't know the definitive answer :( "If parents choose not to share these details with you, you must ask them to state why not on your Contract or Child Information Form and to sign. You might also be best contacting Ofsted for guidance BEFORE you take on the child." OOPS!! :o

 

LawCall and/or Ofsted next....

 

Nona

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Forgive my possible naivety here but what exactly does the EYFS actuallysay.? My understanding was always that if the child's father had no relationship with the child, then they were not known to the provider, had no parental responsibility, and therefore recording that was all that was necessary. We cannot insist that parents give chapter and verse of a relationship that was ended, or in some circumstances the father may be unknown. I would have thought Maz' approach of who has parental responsibility was enough? (and if noone, then no need to ask further questions)

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I rang Ofsted. The lady I spoke to was great, explained that there's no definition of Parental Responsibility in EYFS.

 

I was correct to ask for the information but Mum is not obliged to give it as long as she records her decision on the form and signs it.

 

I've copied Ofsted's email confirmation here and my question is recorded on my file at Ofsted. I've copied the email to Mum so she always has the definitive answer in case she's asked this again at playgroup, nursery....

 

Am I the only one wondering why I'm required by law to ask for this??

 

Dear Mrs xxxxxxxxx

 

Thank you for contacting us.

 

Parental responsibility is not defined in the childcare act 2006 or the EYFS statutory framework; what constitutes parental responsibility?

 

We take the meaning of parental responsibility from section three of The Children act 1989 (see below). In addition while mothers (birth) always have parental responsibility, fathers only have parental responsibility if:

• They were married to the child's mother when the child was born.

• They jointly adopt a child

• The parents jointly register the birth (so both names appear on the birth certificate)

• The parent have formed a parental responsibility arrangement

• They are given parental responsibility by court order.

Parental responsibility cannot be acquired by living with a child for a long time, unless you apply to the court to obtain it.

 

Parental responsibility is not affected by divorce (both parents retain it). The only way that it can be removed is by court order.

 

Meaning of "parental responsibility" from the children act 1989

 

(1) In this Act "parental responsibility" means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.

 

(2) It also includes the rights, powers and duties which a guardian of the child's estate (appointed, before the commencement of section 5, to act generally) would have had in relation to the child and his property.

 

(3) The rights referred to in subsection (2) include, in particular, the right of the guardian to receive or recover in his own name, for the benefit of the child, property of whatever description and wherever situated which the child is entitled to receive or recover.

 

(4) The fact that a person has, or does not have, parental responsibility for a child shall not affect-

(a) any obligation which he may have in relation to the child (such as a statutory duty to maintain the child); or

(:o any rights which, in the event of the child's death, he (or any other person) may have in relation to the child's property.

 

(5) A person who-

(a) does not have parental responsibility for a particular child; but

(xD has care of the child, may (subject to the provisions of this Act) do what is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child's welfare.

 

I hope this information is helpful to you.

 

However should you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Kind Regards

 

Ruth Molyneux

Ofsted - National Business Unit

TEL: 0300 1231231

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When my elder son started secondary school, we discussed this issue with the deputy headteacher - I & my son's biological father jointly registered his birth (though before 1 December 2003!) so according to Ofsted's email would both have parental responsibility - but bio dad has had no contact with us since son was 5 and we don't know where he is or how to contact him.

 

So the school have my details as first contact, my husband's as second contact - he is listed as son's step father. They also have my mother as third contact. School were happy with this. I went on a safeguarding level 2 course some time later with the deputy head and we discussed the general issue of parental resp again there.

 

Of course, it is different when the father still has contact and my son's bio dad did have occasional contact until my son was 5 - but I've never put him on the preschool's records or school's records.

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I have a parent who has gone through a very messy separation and has not included her x husband's details on this year's form. I've kept last year's form in the file rather than cause her distress, but have noted that he's not on her list of people who can collect her daughter. She has provided 3 other contacts, so hopefully the situation won't ever arise when I need - and can't contact = one of the 4 of them!

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this raises some very interesting thoughts...

 

I've had MANY conversations with my supervisor after a mum split with child's dad and told us he was no longer allowed to collect the child.

 

Now, I said that she can't say that... he's entitled to collect as he has parental responsibility and if he turned up and refused then he'd call the police and they would say that he was quite entitled (though no doubt it would be quite as simple as that!).

 

But then, if you don't know the dad, then surely you would be within your right to refuse collection on that basis.... however, I'm sure that if the police got involved and could confirm identify, access, etc. then again dad would be able to collect.

 

In terms of actually giving the information in the first place, I wouldn't think to query it to be honest! As long as it wasn't left blank, if mum said, she would give it then I would just note it and leave it at that. Even with dad's name you wouldn't release a child to him if he was unknown to you...

 

What a nightmare!

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Forgive my possible naivety here but what exactly does the EYFS actuallysay.?

 

All I can find is on page 23 under 'specific legal requirements'. There is a section about providers obtaining information from parents in advance of a child being admitted to a setting. It lists a few details of information which must be included and one of these says;

"Information about who has legal contact with the child; and who has parental responsibility for the child"

 

All a bit tricky - a scenario we have is parents never married but Dad on birth certificate. He therefore has parental responsibility and also has legal contact (access agreed through the Court) but is being a bit of a pain and mum is seeking legal advice about having access changed to supervised access. He is not on the list of people who will usually collect the child - what do we do if he should turn up asking to collect his child?? My answer is not let the child go and face any fallout later :o

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So we add the title of mediator to our list of titles.

I wonder if parents who split up are aware of the law surrounding PR or whether the first they hear of it is from us? It would be nice to think they were being given information but it seems likely they dont know or at least dont understand the implications for us.

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So we add the title of mediator to our list of titles.

I wonder if parents who split up are aware of the law surrounding PR or whether the first they hear of it is from us? It would be nice to think they were being given information but it seems likely they dont know or at least dont understand the implications for us.

 

They mainly don't have a clue until we tell them.

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They mainly don't have a clue until we tell them.

 

I agree!!

 

Wish I'd had more info on it all before asking the question xD

 

I had my Annual Network review on Friday and raised my concerns with my Network co-ordinator. She has 20 years experience in child protection and was quite amazed that I'd never been offered training on this, thought it might be covered in Safeguarding training courses but hasn't been mentioned on any courses I've attended. She's gone away to check what newly registering childminders are being told - perhaps it's just those of us who registered pre-2003 that haven't realised the implications!?

 

I've amended my forms (again!) so they now ask:

 

Does anyone else have parental responsibility yes/no/prefer not to answer (delete)

 

It is a Statutory Requirement of EYFS that I ask for this information. If you prefer NOT to answer please sign here__________

You do not have to give a reason for your decision.

 

Then I've added a Parental Respnsibility policy to my collection (!) which is given to anyone who "prefers not to answer"....

 

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY (PR)

 

The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework Statutory Requirement ‘Safeguarding and promoting childrens welfare states that childcare providers must obtain information about who has legal contact with the child and who has parental responsibility’.

 

ONLY those with PR can sign the childminding contract, permission slips for outings, medication and accident forms etc and leave the premises with the child UNLESS the person with PR has given specific permission and safeguarding procedures are securely in place.

 

The Registration Information form asks for this information. If you prefer not to answer please talk to me about it as absent parents with PR may pick up their child if they choose and are legally entitled to do so.

 

However, in line with my Safeguarding Policy “the child will not be released into the care of any person not known to me without prior permission from the parent” In these circumstances I would contact the parent who signed the contract and Registration Information and ask them to come to positively identify the absent parent.

 

Hopefully, this covers every eventuality - I didn't realise family law and mediation were part of my childminding role, and I'm not all that happy about this development :o

 

Nona

 

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That looks well-worded. Isn't it a minefield out there!!

 

Mine says:

Name of parent with whom the child lives 1. _______________________

 

Does this parent have parental responsibility? Yes / No (delete)

 

2. _______________________

 

Does this parent have parental responsibility? Yes / No (delete)

 

 

Name of any parent(s) with whom the child does not live _______________

 

Does this parent have parental responsibility? Yes / No (delete)

 

Address ____________

 

Telephone ____________

 

Does this parent have legal access to the child? Yes / No (delete)

 

I think I'll add your sentence about the EYFS there, if you don't mind

Edited by Cait
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Sounds like you're covering all the bases, it's more than my childminder asked when younger son started - dunno if she asks more now, I'll ask her!

 

We were talkin g aobut our roles at uni, comparing the EYPS standards against those for QTS - it seems that actually we are meant to be everything for all families we work with. In an amusing constrast, younger son's school have him working with the outreach service for children with Emotional & Behavioral difficulties - I'm guessing they may be planning to tell me at parents' evening, rather than younger son saying 'I go down the corridor in a little room with a man...' :o

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The Registration Information form asks for this information. If you prefer not to answer please talk to me about it as absent parents with PR may pick up their child if they choose and are legally entitled to do so.

 

Nona

 

I am not doubting you for a second Nona but wonder if you know where it states that PR equates to a parent being entitled to collect children? I just can't find it anywhere. I realise that you have such an eventually covered in your policy where it states you would ring the mother to come and verify the other PR person should they arrive.

 

I can't believe the 'law' allows this - take a hypothetical example of Mary and Fred register their child's birth together and therefore both have PR. Fred separates from Mum when the child is weeks old and has no further contact with mum or child. Through the grapevine he hears that the child now aged 3 is attending joe bloggs nursery and turns up to collect - I know none of us would let the child go in such circumstances but surely this can't be the true definition of parental responsibility.

 

I divorced many, many years ago and it was acrimonious to say the least. I knew my ex would continue to hurt me in any way he could and the 'best' way to get at me was via the children. We had joint parental responsibiilty at one stage but I had a residency order. My biggest fear was that he would try and take the boys from school and my solicitor wrote to the school saying in no uncertain terms he was not allowed to collect and should he attempt to do so the school should call the Police and yet he had PR.

Just intrigued by the 'letter of the law' really :o

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Geraldine, I know what you mean - as I've already said I didn't put my ex's name down with my son's school (or actually tell him what school my son went to...). But everytime I've been on safeguarding courses, we've been told that if the father has PR, we can't refuse him the right to collect his child... though as already said, if we don't know him (or her, if it's the mother who turns up without us knowing her) - we'd do the same as we would if a grandparent/aunt/next-door neighbour turned up.

 

Of course, any time the father has PR but the mother believes the children will be unsafe with him, she apply for a court order forbidding him access, and I guess this is something your solicitor might have discussed with you. We've had children before where the father is NO WAY allowed to see the children - the mother has to provide us with a copy of the order, and we would have to phone the police if the father turns up.

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this site has one of the most straightforward explanations of the "what to do if the absent parent arrives to collect the child" scenario http://eduwight.iow.gov.uk/the_lea/admin/i...sentparent1.pdf

 

The "absent" parent has exactly the same rights as the parent with whom the child lives and can choose to exercise them at any time, unless a Court Order states otherwise - that's precisely what upset my client last week :o

 

Nona

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Very messy stuff this - but it does frequently come up and it always seems so sad to me the mother assumes she 'owns' the children and can use them to get at the father.

 

So what would you do if you do know the father and he has been allowed by mother to bring child to nursery but then mum says he cant pick up?

Both parents have PR...if this happened would you let the child go or stall and call mum?

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Very messy stuff this - but it does frequently come up and it always seems so sad to me the mother assumes she 'owns' the children and can use them to get at the father.

I agree it is very messy, but I can't let the second part of your statement go unchallenged. Many women might also say that it is sad that the father assumes that when a relationship breaks up he can simply walk away from his responsibilities towards his children. I'm sure that both my statement and yours accurately sum up some situations that children live with daily. Whatever our personal feelings or experiences may be, in the professional context of our work I think it is important that we be non-judgemental when we become involved in situations involving parental responsibility. Otherwise we run the risk of identifying too closely with either parent, and ultimately lose sight of our responsibilities towards the child who is caught in the middle.

 

So what would you do if you do know the father and he has been allowed by mother to bring child to nursery but then mum says he cant pick up?

Both parents have PR...if this happened would you let the child go or stall and call mum?

The scenario you describe has been discussed several times on the Forum, and the consensus has always been that without a court order to tell us so, we cannot prevent a father collecting his child provided he is known to the setting and we had no concerns about the child's immediate safety were we to release the child into her father's care. We would need to explain this to mum and agree how to handle this in the event of dad coming to collect the child. We would probably need to take legal advice too, just to be sure of our own legal responsibilities.

 

So many issues to think about here!

 

Maz

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  • 8 months later...
this site has one of the most straightforward explanations of the "what to do if the absent parent arrives to collect the child" scenario http://eduwight.iow.gov.uk/the_lea/admin/i...sentparent1.pdf

 

The "absent" parent has exactly the same rights as the parent with whom the child lives and can choose to exercise them at any time, unless a Court Order states otherwise - that's precisely what upset my client last week :o

 

Nona

 

 

Nona - thanks for this - hugely helpful just at the moment!

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Nona - thanks for this - hugely helpful just at the moment!

 

Glad to help!!

 

PR became my specialist subject and led to some interesting discussions with my Network co-ordinator, Uni tutors and my Ofsted inspector.

 

Mrs O commented that it was yet one more hat for EY workers to wear... Family Law adviser!!!

 

Hope your situation gets resolved soon, Cait. If I can help at all..........?

 

Nona x

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Hi, just been approached by an ex-Dad to say his ex-partner has told him he can't collect from school any more and won't be putting him on the list in September. There's no reason, she's just being bitchy because she can! They weren't married but his name's on the birth certificate. Son is 5 and adores him - part of the reason his ex wants to keep hmi away! He wanted to know whether she could do that, and what would happen if he turned up at school. He doesn't really read well so was flummoxed by the amount of stuff on the internet, can't afford a solicitor and wanted my perspective. Your stuff was really useful to go through with him as a 'first perspective' but I suggested the CAB would be a sensible place to go.

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Hi, just been approached by an ex-Dad to say his ex-partner has told him he can't collect from school any more and won't be putting him on the list in September. There's no reason, she's just being bitchy because she can! They weren't married but his name's on the birth certificate. Son is 5 and adores him - part of the reason his ex wants to keep hmi away! He wanted to know whether she could do that, and what would happen if he turned up at school. He doesn't really read well so was flummoxed by the amount of stuff on the internet, can't afford a solicitor and wanted my perspective. Your stuff was really useful to go through with him as a 'first perspective' but I suggested the CAB would be a sensible place to go.

 

How spiteful!!

 

CAB a good place to start, also many local Family Law solicitor's offer a free 30 minute appointment that may

answer some of his questions.

 

Otherwise a copy of the information for schools may mean that his son's school have second thoughts about accepting her instructions.Perhaps if it is pointed out to her that what she's doing isn't legal she'd think again?

 

Nona

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