There are times when social services become involved in the lives of private individuals as there is a concern about a child and that child’s safety. Sometimes those concerns are well founded, but at times those concerns are not.
In those circumstances, we have a team of experienced practitioners who are able to assist parents and members of their extended family, to work with social services and local authorities and provide advice about the options available to you both before and after any Court proceedings.
We can assist with:
- Child protection
- Care and supervision orders
- Contact with children in care
- Representation of children
What are care proceedings?
This is the formal process where a Local Authority asks a Court to have your child taken into care and gives the Local Authority ‘parental responsibility’ which means they have a legal right to make decisions which affect your child such as where they live, where they go to school and about other important decisions. It is possible that you would no longer be able to control the important decisions for your child.
I agreed my child could be accommodated whilst I sorted some things out – now the Local Authority won’t let my child come home, what do I do?
Under s.20, the Local Authority can only accommodate your child with your consent. Usually we would first write a letter saying that you no longer consent to this arrangement and you want your child to return home within a set time, usually a week. If your child is not returned then this will force the Local Authority to issue proceedings so that they can share parental responsibility with you. Ultimately it is the Court who make the final decision about where children should live.
I have received a pre proceedings letter from the Local Authority, is it important ?
It is extremely important. The Local Authority should set out their concerns in the letter and this is a final notice so if you do not follow its instructions then you may have to go to Court and your child could be taken into care.
Social Services want to take my children from me, what should I do?
The Local Authority has a legal duty to ‘safeguard protect and promote the welfare of children’ in their area. If a Local Authority thinks that a child is at risk of harm or neglect they have to take action. If agreements cannot be made then the only way the Local Authority can share ‘parental responsibility’ with a parent is to apply for an interim care order and the Court is likely to list the matter urgently for a Hearing. However, it is the Court (not Social Services) that will make the final decision about the children based upon what is in the children’s best interests. Public Funding is available for parents in these cases. This is a complex area of law and it is very important that a parent seeks immediate legal advice. If the Local Authority issue proceedings then a lawyer in our family team at WBW would usually offer a ‘same day’ appointment.