AFG LAW’s specialist care team understand how frightening it is for parents and wider family members when they hear social workers talking about Child Protection. We also understand how important it is for parents to get accurate legal advice and support straight away.
When will a social worker start Child Protection?
A social worker will start a Child Protection investigation if they suspect that a child is suffering significant harm or they suspect a child is likely to suffer significant harm in the future. This will usually start after a referral has been made by someone who knows the child and has concerns. If a social worker starts a child protection investigation they will gather information about the child, assess their home life and decide whether they think there is significant harm or if it is likely the child will experience significant harm. They will then make a decision about the next steps.
If you have been told that a child protection investigation is going to take place you will probably also hear about initial Child Protection conferences, Child Protection plans, reviews and core group meetings. It is important that you understand what all of these things mean and also take them seriously, contact our care lawyers today for help.
What is a Child Protection conference?
If you are invited to an initial Child Protection conference this is the first meeting in the Child Protection process and probably the biggest. You will be invited along with people who are involved with your child, exactly who this will be will depend on your child, their age and who knows your child. The people attending the meeting could be; a doctor, nurse, health visitor, midwife, teacher, social worker, police officer, housing officer, youth worker, drug and alcohol worker, domestic violence worker etc.
The meeting will want everyone involved in you and your child’s life to consider all of the information from everyone else and decide what action is needed to keep the child safe, healthy and developing normally. At the meeting it will be decided what services and support need to be put in place and which person is best placed to do it. A record of the meeting will be kept and this will be referred to as the ‘minutes’. The plan will be kept under review to make sure it is working; the first review Child Protection conference will take place 3 months after the first meeting and then there will be further reviews after 6 months. If you are involved in this process you will also be involved in core group meetings, these are usually smaller meetings and their job is to build on the Child Protection plan and make sure it is followed and progressing.
What is a Child Protection plan?
If a Child Protection conference decides that a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, ill-treatment or a child’s health and development are suffering because of the care they are getting a plan will be put in place to support the child. The plan will say what additional support is needed and who is responsible for providing the support and making sure it is happening.
How can a solicitor help me if my children are subject to Child Protection?
Our specialist care solicitors are familiar with the Child Protection process and can offer you guidance and support. It will help you to get independent advice from a solicitor before a conference to make sure you fully understand the meeting and the documents you have been given. Solicitors can attend meetings with you but their role is as an advisor and to offer support, legal aid is not always available to cover a lawyer attending a Child Protection conference.