The Children's Services Department of your local authority is responsible for making sure that children living with their families are safe and well cared for by their parents or the person looking after them.
Sometimes Children's Services receive information that makes them worried about a child's welfare. If Children's Services believe that your child may be harmed, they have a duty to take action to protect your child. Children's Services must get the court's permission to take any action you do not agree with; they can apply to the court for a variety of orders, such as an emergency protection order, child assessment order, care or supervision order or a secure accommodation order.
Before Children's Services apply for a care order, they may call a meeting - what's known as a ‘child protection case conference' - to see if your child could be properly protected without a care order being made, for example by providing you and your family with support services. All the professionals, organisations and agencies involved with your child, such as doctors and schools, will be invited to the meeting.
When either the Children's Services or the court advises you that they are going to start care proceedings, it is important that you obtain legal advice. You may be upset or angry or feel that nobody is listening to you. It is essential to have a solicitor who knows the law about children and knows how the courts make their decision in these kinds of cases. These solicitors are usually members of the Law Society's Children Panel.
If you should find yourself, or a member of your family, involved in care proceedings, please contact us as soon as possible. If advice or assistance is needed in the course of adoption, we have experience and skills in these proceedings also.