What Can You do if Social Services Have Taken Your Baby?
If social services (children’s services) have concerns about the welfare of a child they will need to make this clear to parents from the outset. If pre-proceedings measures have failed to alleviate the concerns, the Local Authority may then apply to the Court for an order to remove a child from a parents care. A copy of this application will be provided to parents and/or their legal representatives. Parents and their legal representatives will also be notified of the date and time of the hearing so that they can attend and put their case to the Court.
The Local Authority will need to satisfy the Threshold criteria when considering if children should be removed for the care of their parents or if Court orders are required. Simply put, this is the point at which the Local Authority say that the level of parenting offered to a child is not good enough. Parents are able to challenge the Local Authority’s case during the course of proceedings by providing the Court with evidence that the Threshold is not met for either the removal of the children or the making of final orders that would otherwise result in the children being placed away from their parents.
If the Local Authority are seeking to remove your children from your care you will need to obtain legal advice as soon as possible so that we are able to provide the necessary support and guidance.
Pre-Birth Child Protection Conference
A pre-birth Child Protection Conference will be convened by social services if, after a section 47 enquiry, they still have concerns about the welfare of the unborn child. This meeting will then set out the concerns held by social services and any other professionals involved, for example, midwives.
A Child Protection Plan will then be drawn up and circulated to parents and all professionals involved with the unborn child, setting out the specific requirements of each person involved to try and resolve the concerns of social services. This plan will also set out the support to be given to parents during social services involvement.
A review pre-birth Child Protection Conference will be scheduled for 3 months later to consider how the matter is progressing, whether the concerns have all been addressed, what further support can be put in place and whether or not there is still a need for a child protection plan. If additional concerns should be raised, these will again need to be addressed and outlined clearly so that parents are fully aware of what is expected of them and why social services have concerns.
If it is decided that the Child Protection Plan will remain in place until the child is born, discussion is then also had about discharge from hospital and a plan will be put in place setting out if the child can go home with parents what support would be in place to manage this. If social services do not think that this is safe they will need to seek legal advice and consider taking the matter to Court to seek an order to place the child in foster care.
Please see the Care Proceedings section for more information or contact us.
If social services have concerns about the welfare of a child these concerns need to be set out and clearly explained to parents through the relevant Child Protection procedures. If the concerns are not addressed, social services may consider seeking legal advice to remove your children from your care.
The circumstances where social services may be concerned about a family can include:
- concerns regarding a parent’s ability to protect from domestic violence, sexual abuse, physical abuse or emotional harm;
- alcohol or substance misuse and the effects of the same on a child;
- where a previous child in the family has been removed;
- where a person who has been convicted of an offence against a child, association with risky adults or a person who poses a risk to children;
- concerns regarding parenting capacity, mental health problems or learning disabilities;
If a parent can show that the concerns are unfounded or with work can be resolved, social services may cease their involvement with the family.
How Do I Stop Social Services From Taking My Baby?
If social services have concerns about the welfare of a child they will need to undertake their own enquiries to ensure that the child is not suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. They will need to set out these concerns to parents and a child protection plan may be formulated to highlight the areas of concerns that need be resolved.
A child protection plan should clearly set out what actions need to be taken and by whom. Review child protection conferences will highlight how the plan is progressing and if matters are progressing positively social services may not seek to take any further action.