You may be asked by social services to attend meetings. It is important you engage with these meetings and seek legal advice if you are unsure or worried about any of the issues raised.
There may then be an Initial Child Protection Conference. People attending this meeting can include health professionals, schoolteachers, the police and you. Decisions will be made about whether your child needs support and assistance and how this can be achieved. There may be talk of a child protection plan or a child in need plan for your child. This can be an intimidating and scary time, but it is important to find a way forward with social services and put a plan in place that is going to support you and your family. Lawyers are not usually invited to these meetings and are unable to speak on your behalf. You should view the meeting as a chance to sit down with social services and the professionals involved and be open and honest with them and try to reach a resolution.
If concerns continue, then you may be asked to attend appointments for assessments to take place. These can be to do with your mental health or any substance issues including alcohol use. There may be an assessment to check your level of understanding and see what support can be given to you. The social worker will assess how you are parenting. You may feel judged or upset and be confused by what you are being asked to do. At GoodLaw, we have a dedicate web page to frequently asked questions regarding social services involvement and assessments. Please see ….. for more information.
You should be aware that the Local Authority cannot take your child away without a court order. If concerns about your child are at a high level, you may be asked to attend a legal meeting called a meeting before proceedings or a meeting before action. We can attend these meetings with you and play an active role. If you are a biological parent or a person with parental responsibility for a child involved, you will be eligible for non-means, non-merits legal help and so all costs involved with our attendance and advice are covered.
The local authority will discuss what needs to happen to avoid taking the case to court. We can advise you at every stage and with everything that is being asked of you. We can also help to point you in the right direction for outside support and let you know what to expect.