Local authorities and social services have a duty to protect and promote the welfare of the children living in their area. They have a duty to investigate any concerns or allegations regarding risks to children and they should support families who request or require assistance. In certain circumstances, the local authority may decide to pursue intervention to protect a child and they have numerous options to do this/
Legal aid is generally available for matters involving the local authority.
Care and Supervision Proceedings
If the local authority are concerned that children are suffering or are at risk of suffering significant harm in the care of their parents or guardians they can pursue care proceedings to protect the children, either to remove them from to foster care or more suitable placements depending on their needs.
Parents and adults with parental responsibility for the children are automatically a party to these proceedings. Father's without parental responsibility will also be entitled to be joined to the proceedings. Grandparents or other significant carers do not have an automatic right to be joined as a party but are entitled to apply to be joined and it will be for the court to decide if it is appropriate to be joined.
If a care order is granted (whether interim or final) the local authority will share parental responsibility and therefore be entitled to make decisions for the child, including placements.
If a supervision order is granted, the local authority will not share parental responsibility but allows the local authority to remain involved with the family and carry out routine checks to ensure there are no issues for a period of time.
This is a lower form of intervention by the local authority. In child protection matters will consider whether there is a requirement to implement a child protection plan to ensure the needs of the child are met.
In these circumstances, the local authority does not necessarily feel the matter requires court intervention, but if a child protection plan is not complied with or if the parents do not engage with the process, the local authority may consider pursuing an application to the court.
Section 20 Agreements
This again is a lower form of intervention by the local authority, but in circumstances where the local authority has not yet finalised pursuit of a court application and feels the child's needs can be met by placement either in foster care or other family members with the agreement of the parents. This is available as a temporary method to ensure the safety of the child and all Section 20 agreements are a voluntary agreement between the local authority and parents.
What We Can Do
Given the complexities and sensitive nature of local authority and social services involvement in a family it is always essential to seek advice and representation from a qualified and accredited solicitor to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights and legal options.
Our Past Cases
Below are some local authority cases we have represented and conducted in the past:
Concluded lengthy care proceedings with children being returned to our client under a Child Arrangement Order
Secured the return of a teenage daughter who was in foster care and subsequently a specialist Child Sexual Exploitation unit throughout proceedings
Prevented a child being adopted with care proceedings concluding with the newborn baby being placed with paternal family in Algeria
Hasan has also been the instructing solicitor in the following two reported Local Authority cases include the following: