Social Services want to take my child into care – what can I do?
The Local Authority can take steps to remove your child from your care
by applying to a court for a 'care order' if they believe that your child is suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm.
If you are the parent of a child who the Local Authority wants to take into care you are entitled to free legal representation at court
As the law about when a child can be taken into care
is very complicated, it is important that you obtain legal advice as soon as possible
What are 'care proceedings'?
If the Local Authority is worried about a child, it can start 'care proceedings'
Initially the court will ask the family court to make a temporary court order
know as an 'interim care order'. This allows the Local Authority to take the child into care on a temporary basis
, which can be up to 8 weeks
at first and renewed every 28 days.
The Local Authority is under a duty to promote contact
between children in care and their parents.
There will be a range of people involved in the care proceedings including your child’s social worker and a Children's Guardian
from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass).
The Children's Guardian is there to represent the rights and interest of your child
, by getting to know your child and your family.
The social worker and the Children's Guardian will prepare reports for the court
outlining what they believe is best for your child and ultimately whether or not they think that it would be safe
for your child to return to your care.
You will also have the opportunity to prepare your own statement
and to provide information to the court to explain how you feel and to prove that you have addressed any concerns that the local authority may have about you.
What happens when I go to court for the first time?
At the first court hearing, the judge will consider the local authority’s application
for a care order and will hear from all of the parties involved, including your solicitor. The Judge will then decide whether or not to make an order
allowing the removal of your child from your care.
If the judge decides that your child is not safe in your care then your child will be placed with either a family member or in foster care
. This is not a final decision about your child’s future and you will have the opportunity to evidence to the court
that you have addressed the local authority’s concerns and that your child should be returned to your care.
Remember if you are the parent of a child involved in care proceedings you are entitled to free legal advice and representation
What do I have to do?
You must ensure that you attend all meetings
with social services. These meetings are your chance to have a say about any concerns and explain whether you agree with social services
that your child is suffering or at risk of suffering from significant harm. It is also your opportunity to ask social services for any support and help
that you may need from them.
It is important that you speak to a solicitor about your options
. A solicitor will listen to you, clarify legal points, answer your concerns and attend meetings to help explain your point of view. They will also attend court hearings with you.
How can a Solicitor help you?
We can meet with you to talk about your concerns, speak with your social worker, attend meetings with social services with you and represent your interests at court
We understand that being a parent can be difficult at the best of times
and that when social services become involved parents can often feel alone and unsupported. We work in partnership with other professional organisations to ensure that parents are supported and listened to
in their time of need.
We recognise that every parent has a fundamental role to play in their child's life. Parents often feel unheard
within the Court process - we give every parent a voice.