The safety and wellbeing of our children is always at the forefront of every parent’s mind. However, sometimes things may go wrong and Children's Services (Social Services) can intervene.
There is no process more stressful or heart-breaking for a parent to face, than the prospect of their child being removed from their care or adopted. It is therefore vitally important that parents have access to straight talking, effective, legal advice as soon as possible.
QualitySolicitors Parkinson Wright have a specialist Child Care Team that can help you with all your care matters.
Children’s Services can start court proceedings in relation to your child if they are worried about your child living with you. They can apply for:
- A ‘Care Order’
- An ‘Emergency Protection Order’
When an application is made to the court, a Judge will make decisions about where your child should live.
If you have received court paperwork, you should seek immediate legal advice from our specialist Care Team. Due to the importance of court proceedings, we will endeavor to ensure that you speak to a solicitor within 24 hours.
When court proceedings are issued, the Judge will consider whether your child ‘has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm’ or alternatively ‘whether your child is beyond parental control.’
The most important person to the Judge is the child. Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 states, ‘the welfare of the child is the court’s paramount consideration’.
There may be many reasons why you have found yourself in this situation (this list is not exhaustive):
- An injury may have been found to your child and Children’s Services need to investigate how this has happened.
- There has been domestic abuse within the family home.
- It is alleged that your child has been exposed to alcohol or drug use in the family home
- You are a young or first time parent and Children’s Services say they are worried about you caring for the child alone
- There has been an allegation that you have neglected the needs of your child, for example, poor school attendance, home conditions, the child allegedly is showing poor presentation.
- You have learning difficulties or mental health problems which is impacting on your care of your child.
- There has been an allegation that the child has been sexually abused
- Children’s Services say your child has been around risky adults.
When Children’s Services become involved with your child, it can feel overwhelming. You may feel like the Social Worker is not listening to you. You may feel that there is evidence to show you are a good parent, yet this is not being taken into account. You may accept that you have problems and you want to make changes but you are confused as to how to do this. You may be worried that Children’s Services want to place your child into foster care whereas you have a perfectly capable family member or friend who can help care for your child.
A parent is automatically part of these court proceedings. You should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
You will need legal advice to do the following:
- Attend court hearings including interim hearings and final hearings.
- Consider the court bundles – these can often be lengthy and confusing.
- Compile court statements to give your views to the court.
- Collect evidence from third parties to support your arguments, for example statements from: your GP, the school or nursery, a health visitor, family and friends who have observed your care of the child, a counsellor or mental health worker, and family support workers.
- Make applications to court for expert assessments – for example your case may require the assistance of an independent Social Worker, Psychologist, Psychiatrist, or specialist medical experts such as Pediatricians. You may need to make an application for an assessment to be completed in a parent and baby foster placement or residential placement.
During the court process you may wish to take action to improve the chances of either keeping your child in your care, or alternatively having your child returned to your care:
- Attend all contact with your child.
- Undertake parenting courses.
- Attend domestic abuse courses where this is relevant.
- Attend anger management courses where this is relevant.
- Attend drug and alcohol agencies where this is relevant.
- Engage in all appointments with professionals.
- Speak to your GP to discuss if you need extra help, for example, counselling.
If you are faced with this situation contact us on 01905 721600 to speak with a member of our specialist Childcare Team who will be able to proactively represent and help you throughout this difficult process.