A Child Protection Case Study

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Patricia Cannon

Head of Family and Childcare

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How We Helped Our Client With Care Proceedings

Social workers had become concerned about the welfare of four children aged from 9 months to 6 years old, as neighbours had heard shouting in the home and bottles smashing. The police attended at the family home and found the father being both drunk and abusive.

An anonymous referral to social services mentioned that the mother struggled with her mental health and described the children as “grubby and wild”. As a result of this, social services questioned whether she was using illegal drugs.

Social workers visited the home and found that the cupboards were bare and that there was no fresh food in the fridge. However, the mother explained this by saying that social workers had simply visited on the day before she receives her benefit paymentsand goes shopping.

Social workers also believed that the house was cluttered and warned that the youngest children wouldn’t be able to meet their developmental milestones if they weren’t able to safely move around to explore their home environment. The mother was trying to get a larger property for the family and she said that she often cleaned obsessively as she felt that she couldn’t keep a small house with four children tidy.

She was also stressed and suffering with depressionThis meant that on some days, she didn’t feel like getting out of bed and failed to make school attendance a priority. In turn, this led to the two older children often being late for school.

The concerns led to the children being placed on a Child Protection Plan and deemed to be at risk from physical and emotional harm and neglect.

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How Our Care Proceedings Solicitors Were Able To Help

The mother contacted our Care Proceedings Solicitors to discuss the social workers’ involvement with her family. We advised her to try to find ways of addressing social workers’ concerns and we offered her some practical advice about the support she could receive to help her stay separate from her partner.

We also highlighted how she could access support, such as parenting classes, and help with her depression. We then advised her on the possible steps the social workers may take if they felt that the circumstances for the children hadn’t improved.

The mother listened to and acted on our advice and stopped allowing the father to live in the property. She accepted that the father had anger management problems and encouraged him to get help but didn’t end the relationship as she didn’t believe it was in the children’s best interests for their parents to be estranged. Further to this, she enrolled in parenting classes.

However, unfortunately the social workers didn’t believe that this was sufficient and suspected that the father was still visiting the property as they could see that the curtains were drawn during the day. The mother said that this was because the children were either napping or because they couldn’t see the television when it was too sunny.

Social workers concluded that not enough improvements had been made and invited the mother to a Public Law Outline meeting to discuss what steps would be necessary to prevent them applying to Court to remove the children.

Care Proceedings Solicitors attended the PLO meeting with the mother and helped her to highlight the areas where support was required. We also asked the social workers to help with identifying nursery places for the youngest children and securing after school activities for the older children to ease the burden on the mother. In addition, we advised her to offer to take a drug test if social workers believed she was using drugs.

The mother signed a written agreement promising to only allow the children to see their father if he was supervised by social workers. A date was set for a review meeting several weeks later, but in the meantime, the father claimed that the mother was letting him see the children without social workers present.

At the review meeting, the social workers said they would be taking the matter to Court on the grounds that the mother couldn’t prioritise the safety of the children over her relationship with the father. They also argued that her home conditions were still unacceptable and made an application for an Interim Care Order  and sought removal of the children.

What Was the Outcome of This Case?

At the first hearing, our Care Proceedings Solicitors contested the application for the mother and persuaded the Court that the father had not been honest about having unsupervised contact. We submitted the argument that he had said this because he was angry with the mother for not letting him live in the home any longer.

We also argued that the mother had been open about how she had been struggling to cope and that social workers just hadn’t put enough support in place to help her manage at a very difficult period of her life.

Ultimately, the Court agreed that the removal of the children wouldn’t be in their best interests and ordered an Interim Supervision Order. This put a duty on the social workers to advise, assist and befriend the family, rather than allow them to share Parental Responsibility.

During the proceedings, the Court also ordered a psychological report on the mother, which helped to highlight how she can be supported to manage the future care of her children successfully.

We can help people who are in this situation, you can contact our specialist care proceedings teams in Manchester, London, Liverpool, Leeds and Bristol. Our friendly team can be contacted on 0808 239 4184 or by requesting a call back here.


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Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). Care Proceedings Solicitors. Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/care-proceedings-solicitors/ (Accessed December 11, 2023).

Leeds City Council. (n.d.). Public Law Outline. Retrieved from https://www.leeds.gov.uk/one-minute-guides/public-law-outline (Accessed December 11, 2023).

GOV.UK. (n.d.). If your child is taken into care. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/if-your-child-is-taken-into-care. (Accessed December 11, 2023).

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). What is a Supervision Order? Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/care-proceedings-solicitors/what-is-a-supervision-order/ (Accessed December 11, 2023).

GOV.UK. (n.d.). Parental rights and responsibilities. Who has parental responsibility. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/parental-rights-responsibilities/who-has-parental-responsibility (Accessed December 11, 2023).

GOV.UK. (n.d.). Parental rights and responsibilities. Apply for parental responsibility. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/parental-rights-responsibilities/apply-for-parental-responsibility (Accessed December 11, 2023).

Patricia Cannon

Head of Family and Childcare

Areas of Expertise:
Care Proceedings

As a Partner, Children Panel Solicitor and Department Head of our teams of Care Proceedings Solicitors in London, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds; Patricia represents parents, other carers and children in care proceedings and other matters related to disputes regarding children.

Patricia also offers advice and representation to those seeking protection from or responding to allegations of domestic abuse.

Patricia joined Simpson Millar in October 2018, and has over 20 years’ experience in Family Law, having qualified as a Solicitor in 2001.

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