Place: England - more specifically, Surrey and Devon
Research was made on websites about both the laws on child custody and on help available to families with a child with Down Syndrome, but I have found nothing to help me figure out whether or not some details I have thought up are anywhere near believable - if anyone could help, that would be brilliant!
The scenario: The parents of a child with Down Syndrome (residing in Devon) die suddenly. Her next of kin is an older half-sister (residing in Surrey) who was not aware of her existence until the police notified her their shared father's death. She is also the only relative the child has left who has not already declined to take her in.
- How much time would this sister have to put forward a request for her custody? I had her doing so about a week after getting the notice of what happened, but just asking to be on the safe side.
- Is it believable that the child would be staying at a children's home with social workers until her sister gets her custody?
- As the two are essentially strangers, would child services run a background check on said older sister? Would she need to meet the child with social workers present while being assessed? (She lives pretty far from where she is!)
- How much time would it reasonably take for the older sister to get custody and take her home, given that no criminal record came out of her background check, she gets along well with the child and no one else wants to have her custody?
- Is it believable that the older sister would be allowed to tell the child they are related when she believes it's the best moment to, as opposed to having to do so prior to the child moving in with her?
- As the child would be moving from Devon to Surrey, I assume social/educational services at both ends would be in touch so that those who followed the child until then could make recommendations (for example, tell them whether she had a support teacher back in Devon and if so for how many hours a week). Is that correct?
- I have read that children with Down Syndrome and their families are generally helped jointly by NHS, child and educational services. Would it be believable for a child with Down Syndrome to have an assigned social worker her aging parents can contact in case of need?
Any input would be much appreciated - thanks in advance!