As worrying as it sounds, it is possible that Social Services can take your baby when it is born.
It is one of the worst nightmares a pregnant woman can suffer: Not knowing if she will be able to keep her baby when it is born; or will social services take the new-born child from hospital?
The truth of the matter is, if you have a history with the social services and you have had children taken into care in the past, there is a very real danger that social services want your unborn baby. An with the Children and Families Act 2014 and its foster-to-adopt policy, in pre-birth cases, care proceedings to determine if the child should be permanently removed from the parents may even be utterly bypassed, leaving the parents with no legal advice as to their options until it is too late.
The premise is this: if you have been found to be an unsuitable parent in the past, then it follows that you would still be an unsuitable parent at the for your new child when she is born.
In order for the Court to issue a Care Order, it must be satisfied that:
- Your child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm; and
- That the harm or likelihood of harm is attributable to:
The care given to the child is not what it would be reasonable to expect the parent to give him; or
The children are beyond parental control.
These factors are what is known as the Threshold Criteria. Only if these are met can a Care Order be issued.
At the time of the final hearing of the Application for the Care and Supervision Order, for you to have lost your previous child, the Court must have decided that these criteria had been met.
How is it Decided if Social Services Can Take Your Baby?
In order for social services to take your new-born baby, they must hold a Pre-Birth Protection Conference where they will lay out their concerns that your baby is likely to suffer significant harm after birth because of the care they are receiving. This is similar to the conference held before taking your other child into care, and social services will use the exact same arguments they used to secure a Care Order before.
Unfortunately, the standard of proof required is no more than the balance of probabilities. In other words, if the odds are only so little as 51:49 against you, then social services will have the power to take your baby.