'Focus On The Child's Best Interest': The Polish Parliament's Conference

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The Law Of... understanding the role of social services

Agata Osinska, Solicitor in Family Law for Simpson Millar's Polish team, recently attended – and was a speaker at – the 'Focus on the child's best interest' conference at the Polish Parliament.

Agata Osinska - Solicitor, Family Law, Polish Team - Simpson Millar LLP

She discusses some of the issues that were covered at the conference, and why it's so important for the Polish Embassy and social services to work together to support Polish families.

At the conference there were 2 panels: the first panel was about the system in Poland for foster families. The second panel was the main focus of the event, and covered the issue of Polish children living in EU countries such as Norway, Germany, and England, being taken away from their parents by social services.

There were also speeches from families, embassies, MPs, and representatives from the Ministry of Justice in Poland.

Supporting Polish Families In England

As some of Agata's expertise lies in family law services for Polish families, she was asked to explore the issues Polish families living in England face when dealing with social services from abroad, and how the Polish authorities can help them.

"I decided to focus on a few of the important issues that need to be tackled" Agata comments. "This included highlighting how a language barrier between Polish families and British authorities could create more problems, and how there's a lack of information available for parents about their rights."

One of the biggest problems is that parents tend to believe that their children were taken away unlawfully or unfairly by social services. Whilst this does, unfortunately, occur sometimes, it's not always the case.

Improving Communication Between Polish Families And Social Services

Social services play an important role in safeguarding children's health and well-being, and tend to intervene whenever they feel a child is at risk of harm or abuse. But, the reasons why they're intervening aren't always communicated to the parents that they deal with.

A lack of information or unclear communication will inevitably lead to further issues, making the process even more challenging for both parents and social services.

"This is why it's so important for the Polish Embassy to also step in and give parents more effective information and advice" Agata says. "A better understanding of why their child has been taken away would then hopefully help parents co-operate with social services."

This is a big task for the Polish Embassy to do without any support, which is why Agata proposed that they should consider working with a Polish-speaking solicitor who has experience in dealing with these sorts of situations.

With the help and guidance of a solicitor like Agata, the Embassy could ensure that they offer Polish families more helpful information as well as raising awareness about their ability to access legal aid.

Agata comments:

"It's devastating for parents when their child is taken away by social services, especially when they're not told why they have been removed from their care. This becomes even more complicated when some parents aren't able to speak English fluently and have trouble understanding what is happening."

"Effective communication is essential, and this can only be achieved if social services and the Polish Embassy work together with parents. The main thing to remember is that social services are trying to do their best to protect the children from any possible risks. As long as parents are willing to accept their advice, there is a chance that the children can stay with their families."

"I enjoyed the conference and found it very interesting to speak to some of the parents and specialists. I found that most of the mistakes occur because of a lack of understanding and pre-judgement that could be avoided if both the families and the professionals were given the proper support."

"I hope that the Polish government will continue to work on this project and will try to provide some additional assistance in the UK and other countries affected, so that parents do not feel completely lost when they hear that the local authority wants to speak to them about their children."

"I often work closely with Polish families, and can understand why they feel frustrated in situations like this. If social services have contacted you and you're not sure who you can turn to for support, I can ensure that you get the legal advice and guidance that you need."

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