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Our Children Law solicitors can help with talking to social services, attending at PLO meetings and representing you at Court. Speak to one of our Children Law specialists today. Contact us today on 0114 249 6693 to book your initial meeting.
What Are Social Services
Social services are a department in your local council and their job is to ensure young people are safe, looked after and aren’t suffering from abuse and neglect.
They do this by providing services for children and families who need support. Social services will get involved if they have worries about a child’s safety and will do what they can to ensure the child is safe and looked after.
What Can Social Services Do
If Social services have concerns over a young person’s welfare, they will:
- Contact you in the first instance to make you aware of any concerns they have
- Complete an assessment/child protection investigation and talk to the child or young person, family members and may visit the family home
- Contact all agencies that are directly involved with the child and ask them for information about the child’s welfare.
- In some situations, social services may involve the police who also have a duty to investigate circumstances where it is believed a child has been harmed
- In some situations, invite you to a PLO meeting, and even escalate concerns and start court proceedings to ask a judge to decide where your child should live.
Families often feel anxious at the prospect of social services’ involvement because of experiences they may have heard from others, or just because they are frightened that social workers will remove their children from the family home.
At any stage of Social Service involvement, you should urgently contact us on 0114 249 6693 to book a initial meeting, where we can advise you and discuss if you eligible for legal aid.
Reasons Social Services Would Get Involved
If concerns have been raised about the wellbeing or safety of a child Social Services will get involved. Concerns could be raised by:
- Family members
Social services’ main aim is to protect the child. They, like the courts and the police, will always act in the best interest of the child, over the best interest of the parents. However, that does not mean that they will want to take a child from the care of the parents as soon as things go wrong.
Common reasons Social Services would take a child into temporary or permanent care include:
- Emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Medical neglect
- Concerns regarding drugs or alcohol in the home
- If the parents have been incarcerated
- Serious illness or death of parents
- Violence in the parents’ relationship
Social services can only take a child in to care with a court order or the consent of the parent. Social services could:
- Take a child from their home if an emergency protection order or interim care order is granted before, during or after care proceedings.
- Take a child away from their parents and place it in temporary care if the parents have agreed to this and have voluntarily signed a Section 20 Agreement
What is a Section 20 Agreement?
A Section 20 Agreement refers to Section 20 of the Children Act 1989. The Section 20 agreement allows social services to take a child from their home and place them into safe alternative accommodation, often temporarily, with the agreement of the parents.
This is a voluntary agreement between the parent or parents and social services, and parents have the choice not to sign this agreement if they do not want to.
You should urgently contact us on 0114 249 6693 before making any agreements with social services. We can advise you on the best course of action. It is a big decision to allow social services to remove your child from your care, even if it’s only a temporary solution, so it shouldn’t be made without receiving proper guidance. In many cases Legal Aid will be available to you.
Letter Before Proceedings
A ‘letter before proceedings’ is notification social services are worried enough to think about applying to the court for an order about a child.. The letter will include:
- The concerns the children’s services have
- Changes they would like the parent or carer to make
- Information about any assessments or courses children’s services think parents should be involved in
- Any support children’s services can put in place
- Invite the parent or carer to a pre-proceedings meeting with the parents’ solicitor to discuss those concerns
At this stage you should seek representation from a solicitor. A solicitor will review the letter with you and offer advice. The solicitor’s fees are covered by legal aid for this service. Contact us today on 0114 249 6693 to discuss if legal aid is an option for you.
A Care Proceedings Solicitor You Can Trust
Our Children Law specialists are experts in dealing with complex and sensitive childcare proceedings. We are Children Panel accredited solicitors and we offer representation to pregnant mothers, parents, grandparents, and children. We represent thousands of people each year across the UK.
At a distressing and difficult time, we are here to give advice and support without judgement. We can provide assistance and advice to parents, family members, children, and guardians across all aspects of childcare proceedings, including:
- Offering advice at the first instance social services contact you
- Explaining the contents of any letters or communication from social services to you
- Explaining your rights as a parent or guardian during any stage of the care proceeding process
- Contact social services on your behalf
- Review a ‘letter before proceedings’ with you and offer advice
- Give advice before a ‘pre proceedings’ meeting
- Represent you during a ‘pre proceedings’ meeting
- Give advice and explain your rights following a ‘pre proceedings’ meeting
- Give you advice and represent you at court
The intervention and investigations can be hugely traumatic for everyone, and given their complexity and consequences, it’s essential that you seek expert help from a care proceedings solicitor at the earliest opportunity. Contact us today on 0114 249 6693 to book your initial meeting.
Social Services Frequently Asked Question
Social services are coming to my house – what should I do?
If you have been contacted by social services and they wish to visit you in your own home, this is usually because they have received a ‘referral’ from a member of the public or another organisation. This referral is often as a result of concerns about your ability to look after your child or children.
If social services are coming to see you, it is because they wish to investigate further. This investigation is called an ‘assessment’. You should urgently contact us on 0114 249 6693 and we can advise and even contact social services on your behalf if needed.
I’ve Received a Social Service ‘letter before proceedings’ – what should I do?
You should contact Howells Solicitors on 0114 249 6693 where you can receive free confidential advice on what you should do next. We can even speak with social services on your behalf and represent you at any pre proceedings meetings and court proceedings. We will always fully explain the next stages, and help you understand your legal rights.
Am I Entitled to Legal Aid for Social Service Involvement?
Legal aid is the use of public funds to help to pay for legal advice. There are three considerations for legal aid entitlement:
- Scope – the type of case you are involved with must be on the list of cases that the government says may be funded by legal aid. Parents who are subject to a PLO process or care proceedings are eligible for legal aid.
- Means – An assessment of your financial circumstances may be required to check that you are eligible for legal aid but all parents are automatically eligible for legal aid in the PLO process and care proceedings no matter what their financial circumstances.
- Merits – the legal aid agency check that you have a case to argue, that you have a reasonable likelihood of success, and a reasonable person would use their own funds to pay for the case. This does not apply to the PLO process and care proceedings as all parents are eligible for legal aid for those cases.
Whether your children case is eligible for legal aid depends on the type of case. This can include:
- Care proceedings
- A parent in proceedings where the court is being asked to make a Special Guardianship Order for their child
- A parent asking to permission of the court to oppose an adoption order
- Contact with a child in care
- Discharge/variation of a care/supervision order
Our Children Law Solicitors can help with talking to social services, attending planning meetings, and representing you at Court. Speak to one of our Children Law specialists today. Contact us today on 0114 249 6693 to book your meeting.
Can Social Service punish me for my poor mental health?
The poor mental health of a parent can impact a child in a lot of ways, such as:
- If they cannot control their emotions and they put their child at risk of
- Poor mental health can affect a person’s ability to be emotionally available for their child, which can be deeply upsetting and emotionally harmful.
- Poor mental health can affect a person’s motivation to undertake routine jobs such as cleaning the house, doing laundry and cooking. Whilst these things may not be problematic in the short term, if the problems persist in the long term they can be seriously detrimental to a child’s well being.
If you have poor mental health and it is impacting the welfare of your child, the local authority has a duty to step in. This does not mean that they are punishing you for your mental health. The local authority has a duty to safeguard children. Contact us on 0114 249 6693 the moment Social Services contact you.