Following the Pre-Proceedings Meeting, an official agreement may be drawn up, outlining what you have agreed with the local authority needs to be done in order to look after your child better and in order to prevent them making an application to start care proceedings.
This agreement is a formal document laying down what you have agreed to do to make sure that your child is adequately protected. Keeping to the agreement is vital if you want to prevent children’s services taking further action and possibly seeking the remove your children from your care.
The agreement may include any number of things and is dependent upon the individual circumstances that gave rise to children’s service’s concern over the welfare of your child in the first place.
Some aspects of the agreement are things the parents must do. These may include:
- Making sure their child goes to school every day;
- Taking their child to a friend or family member when the parent goes to work or college;
- Meeting a health visitor every week to check on the child’s health; or
- Seeing a drug and alcohol adviser;
- Engaging in further assessment. For example a risk assessment, psychological assessment etc
Other aspects might include things that the child’s social worker must do, such as:
- Asking a health visitor to visit the child; or
- Asking a drug and alcohol adviser to visit the parents.
What Happens if You Fail in Keeping to the Agreement?
It is important that you understand exactly what you are being asked to do in the agreement so that you are clear on the expectations of you. If you do not understand then it is very important that you ask for clarification. This agreement needs to be in words that you understand so that you are able to refer back to it throughout the process.
It is also very important that you do not agree to anything that you are unable to do. Do not set yourself up to fail. This will not help anyone. If you need help to do something then you must ask for this so that arrangements may be made to help you.
If you don’t keep to the agreement, the local authority may considering applying to the court for permission to take your child into care if they believe that your children are suffering or at risk of suffering from significant harm. It is therefore important that you do everything that is asked of you.
In order to monitor how you are keeping to the agreement, you will need to go to regular meetings with your local authority. At the meetings, you will be asked about what you’ve done to keep to the agreement. The local authority will also ask people you had to meet, like health visitors, to tell them if you have met them, and what they think about your child’s situation.
It is helpful if you keep notes of what actions you have taken to keep in the agreement. You will be able to produce these at later meeting to show that you are doing what you agreed to do to better care for your child.
Where possible, you should try to do things in addition to the terms of the agreement to better care for your child. Anything you can do to show that you are a capable and suitable parent for your child will further your case.
If your circumstances change and you are no longer able to keep to some aspect of the agreement, contact your care proceedings solicitor as soon as you can. They might be able to get the agreement changed, or think of something else you could do instead to help your child.
If you believe that your child’s social worker has not upheld their side of the agreement by failing to do something that they were meant to have done, again you should contact your solicitor as soon as possible. They will contact the social worker to find out why. If you think that your child’s social worker is not helping you, your solicitor can take this matter up on your behalf. It is important that everyone does what they say they are going to do. After all, everyone wants what is best for your child.