When social services become involved with your family it can be very intimidating and you can feel at a disadvantage when it comes to having to deal with formal meetings or court hearings. The prospect of having your child taken away is frightening and you need clear no nonsense advice.
If the local authority expresses any concerns whatsoever about the care of your child, speak to one of our specialist family lawyers straight away. It’s extremely important that you understand what your legal rights are.
If social services start court proceedings against you, as a parent, you will automatically qualify for legal aid for this type of case. Our solicitors can represent you in court to make sure that your views are heard and that the situation is properly investigated.
However, the majority of cases do not lead to court proceedings. In this case, we can help you to take the steps needed to avoid social services from taking further action.
Whether you are involved in court proceedings or a child protection conference, it’s very important that you understand the law and what options are available to you – don’t delay getting advice. Our specialist family lawyers are here to help you from the beginning and guide you throughout the entire process.
Social services generally become involved where there are safety concerns for a child, either actual of potential. You may not agree with their involvement, but they do have a duty to investigate any reports of neglect, abuse or violence where a child is concerned. You will need to satisfy social workers that your child is able to safely remain with you.
CHILD PROTECTION CONFERENCE – what to expect
Social workers arrange these conferences if they are worried that a child may not be safe or well cared for. This is a multi-agency meeting of all the professionals involved with your child, such as teacher, social worker, doctor, or health visitor. You, and your child if they are old enough (usually 10 years of age), are able to attend the meeting.
You should be given a copy of the social workers report before the meeting and given time to read it.
It is important that you go to the meeting. It will help if you prepare some notes before-hand about what you want to say. You can usually take someone to the conference with you for support.
The conference will be chaired by an independent professional who will meet with you beforehand and explain the purpose of the meeting and the procedure.
The main purpose of the child protection conference is to determine if your child is at risk, it is not to remove your child from your care. This can only be done with your agreement or by a court order.
If the local authority applies for a court order we will help you get legal aid and represent you at court hearings.
Depending on the outcome of their investigation or the seriousness of their concerns, a dedicated social worker could be assigned to monitor the situation or the child/children could be taken into care.
How we can help
We can help you in a range of situations, for example:
- Where parents have voluntarily placed their child in care
- Retain contact with your child if they are in care
- Where parents are accused of injuring their child
- Draw up an action plan to address the concerns that have been raised about the welfare of a child
- Parents with learning disabilities
- Those who are applying for special guardianship orders, placement orders or discharge of care orders and secure accommodation orders
- Relatives of a parent involved with social services
If you would like more information, or just want a confidential chat about your options, contact our highly experienced, friendly, supportive team today.