At AWH, our family law solicitors are highly experienced in supporting parents when social services have gotten involved with the care of a child.
You can contact us for guidance and support at any stage.
Legal Aid is likely available to you when you request the assistance of our solicitors, regardless of your financial position. Legal Aid is available free of charge for parents if the Local Authority has applied for a Care Order or a Supervision Order.
Reasons that Social Service May Get Involved
If social services suspect and have reasonable cause to suspect that your child is currently suffering, likely to suffer, or there is a risk of significant harm to your child, then they will get involved in the care of your child.
Some scenarios in which social services would likely get involved include:
- If the child appears harmed, either through physical appearance or their behaviour.
- If there is suspected violence in the household, either between the adults in the house or directly towards the child.
- If there is suspected sexual abuse that the child is subject to or witness to.
- If there is any suspicion of neglect, including not properly washing or feeding the child.
- If there is suspicion that the child is not receiving the correct education.
Several different adult figures in a child’s life may feel the need to intervene, including;
- Nursery workers
- Family members
Can Social Services Remove a Child From Their Home?
Social services must be able to provide evidence to prove that your child is at risk within your household and under your care before they can take any steps to have your child removed.
However, once there is a reasonable cause to suspect a risk to the child’s wellbeing, social services will be able to carry out an in-depth assessment of the safety of your child and of your ability to care for them. This assessment will aim to ascertain what further intervention, such as starting care proceedings, is required to safeguard the child.
In cases where there is deemed to be an imminent risk to the child, proceedings will be started, and an interim care order may be put in place. If this happens, your child will temporarily be removed from your care until a permanent solution is found, and the proceedings are completed.
A child can also be removed from their home under an emergency protection order (EPO). An emergency protection order may be applied for under section 44 of the Children Act 1989 by social services, the police, or the NSPCC if the child is deemed at imminent risk of physical or emotional harm. In addition, if the parents give their consent through a section 20 agreement, the child can be temporarily removed from the house too.
Care Proceedings Process and Hearing
You are entitled to be represented by a solicitor when proceedings are issued, and in most cases, you are also entitled to Legal Aid, regardless of your financial position.
Our care proceedings solicitor can guide you through the process, represent you at hearings and give you advice wherever you need it.
You will always be a party to the proceedings, which means that you will be able to attend all hearings and receive all documents relating to your case. You will also receive all documents and the evidence social services have provided to support their claims.
There are multiple hearings as part of the proceedings process you may need to attend. These include:
- A Case Management Hearing
- An Issues Resolution Hearing
- A Final Hearing
If an interim care order is requested by social services, a separate meeting will be held for this too.
You may not need to go through the entire process, as a solution could be reached at an earlier stage. If you do need to go through the Final Hearing you will likely be requested to make a statement, which our solicitors can prepare you for.
Possible Outcomes of a Final Hearing in Care Proceedings
Once the final hearing has been concluded, a decision will be made on where your child will live and what further steps will be taken to safeguard your child.
There are several possible outcomes to the proceedings. These outcomes could include:
- Care order
- Supervision order
- Emergency protection order
- Placement order
- Adoption order
- Discharge of care order
We can support you throughout the care proceedings process, representing you at hearings and providing you with our expert guidance when you need it. We will work with you and your family to get the best possible outcome.