Grandparents and Children Services

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At AFG law our children solicitors know that grandparents can play a special role in family life and offer support and experience to their children; however, when it comes to care proceedings the position is not a straightforward. If you are worried that children’s services have become involved with your grandchildren then speak to our specialist team today.


There are a number of ways that grandparents can become involved when a social worker has concerns about the welfare of their grandchildren both before court proceedings start and once care proceedings start. This can include; putting themselves forward to be assessed as temporary carers for the children as soon as possible, having contact with the grandchildren whilst they are in care or by becoming a permanent carer for their grandchildren whether under a care order, special guardianship order or child arrangements order.


Children’s Services are involved with my grandchildren – what can I do?

Grandparents don’t need to wait until care proceedings have started to try and support their family.

If the social worker has started working with your family ask the parents how you can help and offer support so they can demonstrate the support networks they have in place to keep the children at home.

If the pre-proceedings process has commenced you can again offer to support the family but you can also ask to be assessed as a carer for the children in the event that the court orders the children should be removed from their family. Make sure the parents know to put you forward and that they give the social worker the best way of contacting you. This can sometimes cause difficulties between grandparents and parents; it may help to try and explain that it is only a back up plan to stop the children going to strangers if the court says they should be removed. The local authority acknowledged that it is better for children to move to live with family or friends rather than going to live with strangers; grandparents can become an approved foster carers for their grandchildren. Children services will have to carry out assessments for any friends or family members that put themselves forward to care for children, if the initial assessment is positive this then moves onto a full assessment.


I don’t understand why my grandchild has a social worker. Why might a social worker become involved?

We have talked about the duties that children’s services have to children living in their area here. There are different levels that a social worker might work with a family and this will depend on how worried they are about your grandchildren’s welfare. The different levels could include; child in needchild protection or the pre proceedings process.

If the social worker is worried that your grandchildren are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant harm then they can apply to the court for a care order. If the social worker believes that your grandchildren are at immediate risk of harm and there is reasonable cause to believe the they are likely to suffer significant harm if they stay where they are or if they are removed from a safe place then the social worker could start emergency proceedings.


The social worker is trying to get a care order for my grandchildren. Why am I not involved in the proceedings?

Grandparents don’t have an automatic right to become involved in care proceedings for their grandchildren. This means that, normally, grandparents won’t be a party to the proceedings, see the paperwork or be allowed to attend court hearings. You may attend court to support the parents but you may not be allowed into the actual hearing room.

Some grandparents may have parental responsibility for their grandchildren, for example if they have a child arrangements order. Please see our guide on parental responsibility to check whether you might have parental responsibility for your grandchildren. If you do have parental responsibility you will automatically become a party to the proceedings and will be able to access legal aid.

Care proceedings are supposed to finish within 26 weeks, if your grandchildren have been taken into care you need to act very quickly. If you are worried that the parents will not have mentioned you to the social worker you should contact the children’s services department straightaway to explain who you are, that you are the children’s grandparents and that you can offer them an alternative to foster care.


I’ve put myself forward to care for my grandchildren, what will happen?

If you have decided to put yourself forward to care for your grandchildren the local authority will complete a viability assessment. Viability assessments usually consider risks and protective factors along with details about the children’s needs, your age, health, living arrangements, history and parenting skills. The social worker who completes the viability assessment will decide whether the initial assessment is positive or negative.

If the initial assessment is positive you will not need to do anything further as the assessment will move to become a full assessment. If the initial assessment is negative then it is possible for grandparents to challenge the decision of the social worker. Grandparents can apply to become a party to the proceedings, also called “party status”, and for there to be a full assessment. The court can direct an assessment of you even if the Local Authority refuse to complete it, this can be redone by a local authority or by an independent social worker. If you have a negative initial assessment contact our specialist family solicitors for help straightaway.

If you want to put yourself forward to care for your children you need to do this as soon as possible. The local authority have to look at wider family members as possible carers  before they consider foster care or adoption but the court won’t wait for family members who delay putting themselves forward until the last minute as delay is not in children’s best interests.


My grandchildren are in foster care, how do I get to see them?

At AFG Law we understand how worrying it is when your grandchildren are taken into care and you don’t get to see them. You might also be worried that you need to keep your bond with them especially if you are putting yourself forward as a possible kinship carer. The first step is to ask the social worker to arrange contact, but if this doesn’t work our children solicitors can help you apply for an order for contact with a child in care. We have prepared information about how to get contact with a child in care here or, alternatively, contact our specialist family team today for a confidential discussion


My grandchildren have been placed with me but I want advice about the different types of order the court could make before I agree with the social worker

When the local authority have completed all their assessments, and decided that the best long term option for your grandchildren is to be placed with you, they will confirm their position to the court and other parties in their final statement and care plan. The social worker needs to think about the different types of orders that the court could make when they write their recommendations and will want to discuss this with you. The order under which your grandchildren live with you is really important and can affect the support you receive, including financial support, and the rights you have towards your grandchildren. The children’s guardian will usually request that the local authority fund one-off legal advice, if the local authority haven’t already offered it to you. Our solicitors regularly advise family members who are going to have the long term care of children about the different types of orders a court can make and whether the support package is suitable. The main types of orders are care ordersspecial guardianship orders and child arrangements orders.


If you need help contact our experienced solicitors today

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Guides & Resources

Social Services Involvement

What does the Court look at when making an Order in Care Proceedings?

Social Services Involvement

Pregnancy and Social Services

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