The idea of having the social services involved in a childs life is a frightening experience for any parent, however, the social services and Local Authority should follow certain procedures before making any application to the court, these procedures include:
- A pre- proceedings letter
- Pre- Proceedings meeting(s)
- Reports by social services
- Section 47 enquiries
If the parent(s)/ Guardian or carer of a child has received a pre-proceedings letter, they will automatically be entitled to Legal Aid. This allows them to instruct a solicitor for advice and to liaise with the Local Authority during this period and to represent them throughout the pre-proceedings.
Here at Scutt Beaumont Solicitors, we have the expertise to assist parents to achieve their desired outcome. We are able to assist and advise parents in making the changes that are necessary to enable them to keep their child(ren) in their care, during both the pre-proceedings process and during care proceedings.
At the pre proceedings meetings, usually the people that are present include:
- Legal representative for the parent(s)
- Social worker
- Social work team manager
- Legal representative for the Local Authority
The social services will undertake various assessments, a copy of which should be provided to the parent/Guardian or carer of the child. These reports can be discussed with their solicitor who can advise them what steps should be taken to increase the chances of obtaining the desired outcome of their matter.
The social services and Local authority will want to know what the parent(s) will do and have done to provide their child(ren) with better care. This is something that needs to be demonstrated by the parent(s) by making the necessary changes to reduce the risk that initially warranted the involvement of the social services.
However, there are times where the risk posed by parents is so significant and the Local authority believe that the child(ren) is or are at risk of significant harm. In such circumstances, they can dispense with the pre-proceedings procedures and make an application to the court to obtain an interim care order for the child(ren) which allows the Local Authority to share parental responsibility for the child(ren). This is often the case where a non-accidental injury has occurred to the child.
Should the court grant the Local Authority an interim care order, they can place the child(ren) in temporary foster care or with a suitable family member/ friend. Should the court feel that an Interim Care Order is not warranted, the Local Authority can agree to the parent(s) caring for the child(ren) under an interim supervision order. In some cases, child(ren) can also be placed with their parent(s) in a family placement or mother and baby placement where they remain living together, whilst further assessments are undertaken.
Parent(s) should note that during the pre-proceedings process and care proceedings, their engagement is vital. Decisions can be made in their absence and disengagement will often work against parents who want to care for their child(ren).
At Scutt Beaumont Solicitors our solicitors include members of the Law Society Children Panel and The Family Panel, allowing us to be experts in the field and provide parent(s) with the advice and assistance they require. Our expert solicitors recommend parent(s) obtain legal advice as soon as possible should the social services instigate pre-proceedings or care proceedings. You can contact us via telephone on 0116 254 4200 or 01536 744847, or via email on Info@sbs-solicitors.co.uk.