If you are the father or any other family member of children who live with their mother and are concerned they are in danger, it can be a worrying time.
The thought of Social Services being involved with your family can be very daunting, and often families may not trust their Social Worker, and can feel as if their concerns are not being dealt with.
Social Services will usually become involved with a family if they have concerns that the children are at risk of harm. The Children Act 1989 defines harm as ill-treatment, or impairment of health or development of the children: –
- “development” means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development;
- “health” means physical or mental health; and
- “ill-treatment” includes sexual abuse and forms of ill-treatment which are not physical.
Once Social Services have become involved with a family, the children will be assigned a Social Worker. The role of a Social Worker is to assess any risks that may put the children in danger of harm, they will carry out a series of planned and unplanned visits to the family home and will speak with both parents, and sometimes the children’s teachers and doctors to obtain their views. Under the Children Act 1989, the welfare of the children must be their first consideration.
Social Services will usually become involved with a family if they have concerns that the children are at risk of harm.
If you have concerns that your children are in danger living with their mother, then you should make your views known to the Social Worker. If you, or anyone else, make serious allegations relating to the welfare of a child, the Local Authority have a duty to investigate. In this situation, a Social Worker would undertake a strategy discussion within 5 days of the allegation, and if required would undertake a Section 47 investigation. While the timescale within which the Section 47 enquiry should be completed is 45 working days, the outcome of the Local Authority’s enquiries must be available in time for an Initial Child Protection Conference which, where necessary, must be held within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion/Meeting where the enquiries were initiated
The Local Authority will take your concerns into consideration when making their assessments. However, upon investigation of your concerns, the Social Worker may choose not to take any further action if they believe that the children are not in danger, as a trained professional, they are entitled to make this decision.
If you disagree with this decision you should speak with the Social Worker and stress your concerns and the reasons for them, and provide them with any evidence you may have to support your claims. If you feel that the Social Worker is failing to carry out their duties you are entitled to make a complaint. You should raise your initial concerns with your Social Worker’s Team Manager. The Team Manager is a more senior member of staff who is responsible for supervising your Social Worker’s files, they will be able to look over the work carried out by your Social Worker and decide if your concerns regarding your children’s mother were properly assessed or if any further work should be carried out.
If you wish to further your complaint, each Local Authority has a different complaint’s procedure, you can get a copy of this by asking your Social Worker, or Local Authority Complaints Manager. The website of your Local Authority or Local Safeguarding Children Board may also have details. The time limit for making a complaint is 12 months from the date of the incident, although this can be extended in certain circumstances.
Alternatively, you could make an Application to the Court for the children to live with yourself. This is a private law Application and would be self funded unless you are eligible for Legal Aid.
During this process CAFCASS would carry out safeguarding checks and if welfare concerns are raised may undertake a full Risk Assessment of both parents to help the court decide where the children should be placed and if they are in danger.
Posted on May 1, 2018