It has been a somewhat distressing time around these parts in the past couple of weeks. We have found out that Erik is couch surfing. He still has a room at Sam's but apparently it has been decided he should 'stay away' for a little while. Why this is so is unknown to us. We know he is staying at a friend's house this week and then he is moving to another friend's house next week.
In addition to this his marks have taken a dive through the floor in the past few weeks. He is apparently at school, but not attending many of his classes. He failed three VCE classes in semester one. The child is in year 11, so failing three subjects now means he'll have to repeat next year. He is already a year older than his peers, so they will be finishing year 12 next year at the age of 18 and he'll be 19. Now, it looks like he won't finish until at least the year after, when he is twenty.
That is if he finishes high school at all. Of course, there is TAFE, but do successfully gain his VCE, he actually has to do some work at all.
We suspect he may have been rejected by Centrelink in his application for Youth Allowance. He didn't meet any of the criteria because he is quite welcome to live at home, and his dispute with us falls under the category of 'normal teenage dissatisfaction with household expectations'. Having been rejected for this, we are wondering whether Sam and Erik's school mentor are colluding to have it appear as if Erik is homeless, by having him couch search for a while. Erik is not meeting the requirement of that eligibility either as there is no need for him to be homeless.
We believe Sam and his school mentor have attempted to convince Centrelink that we have abused Erik. If this is the case, I am absolutely stunned at the behaviour of his school mentor. No one is consulting with us at all.
Ironically, the school just sent out an email to parents stating that they are compliant with the 'Child Safe' policy mandated by the Government under Ministerial Order 870. I will address each of the following in bold print.
The stated Templestowe College policy is that 'staff should not develop any 'special' relationship with students that could be seen as favouritism (for example offering gifts or special treatment to specific students)'.
Erik himself reported to Lukas that Erik's mentor had accompanied him to Centrelink to put in the application for Youth Allowance based on the allegation that Erik was not able to live at home. This was confirmed by the social worker who called us to ask if Erik was indeed not able to live at home. She was satisfied with Erik's safety after a conversation with Dave and the matter was not taken any further. Accompanying Erik to Centrelink is definitely an act of favouritism - not part of usual teacher/student behavour.
'Should report any allegations of child abuse to leadership, and ensure any allegation is reported to the police or child protection'.
In addition, because they applied for youth allowance before Erik was
18, they needed to claim he was eligible for the payment because he
lived too far from work, he was homeless, he was being abused, he was
abusing his family. The only one they could possibly claim was that he
was being abused, in which no one reported on for over a year.
'TC is committed to preventing child abuse and identifying risks early, and removing and reducing these risks'.
How is this being applied with regard to Erik ostensibly needing to couch surf at the moment? Is Sam being reported for this?
'Our Leading Teacher Community and Educational Psychologist are responsible for delivering Professional Development to staff and providing information to students and TC families'.
Where is the provision of information? We have been completely cut out of the loop without having the chance to address any allegations made against us to the Leadership Team. They seem to have forgotten that Dave and I are Erik's guardians. Not Sam, and certainly NOT Aaron Floyd. The law has not appointment them his protectors from us and more to the point, Social Services have investigated their concerns and decided they are unfounded.
How is it that Erik can be couch surfing despite having a room at Sam's? How can it be that we are not being communicated with at all? Erik obviously has no issue with us knowing, or he would not have told Lukas. Why is the school keeping us out of the loop?
In all of this, there is still no acknowledgement that Erik has autism, and that he is emotionally immature (also stated on the report). Erik has an IQ of 90 and while that is within the normal range it is definitely at the low end of normal. Is he able to properly comprehend the situation he is in? Does he realise that finishing his VCE is imperative - even if he has no plans for formal tertiary education. Does he understand that $3-400 a week (Centrelink + income from one or two days work a week, which would mean working all weekend if he were to keep attending school, is not enough to live off?
Dave and I are really worried. We are worried that he doesn't seem to be welcome at Sam's house anymore - what happened to 'as long as he needs to'. We are worried that he is doing so poorly at school. We are worried that he might drop out of school altogether. We are worried that no-one is talking to us about any of this despite the fact that Erik is sharing this information with Lukas whenever the conversation tilts that way.
Dave is calling the social worker again. We need some answers. We need someone to know Erik is couch surfing despite having a room at Sam's place.
Hopefully the social worker will contact someone to get some answers.
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