Can Social Services Take My Child?

For many parents, the words ‘social services’, are met with panic or caution.

Social services’ involvement with families isn’t limited to certain socio-economic groups. If you have a child, and an unexplained injury happens to them, which may be called a non accidental injuriy,  or if you’re struggling to cope with your child due to an addiction you may have, mental health issues, an abusive partner and domestic violence, or poverty, social services may be contacted by medical staff, school staff or police.

So, what should you do if social services contact you because of concerns about your child?

Be open and honest

It is incredibly important that you do not ignore contact from a social worker. Openness and honesty are two words you will hear frequently if a social worker has concerns about your child. It is completely natural to be worried. However, honesty is always the best policy and avoiding social workers can often make them more concerned for your child. So, work with them. Ultimately, they are there to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your family.

Seek legal advice

Get legal advice as soon as possible. Remember, social workers are not responsible for providing you with legal advice, that is a solicitor’s job. Often, speaking to a solicitor at the beginning of social services’ involvement can prevent things escalating, as you will be able to access advice, and be directed to support if you need it.

Social services may invite you to meetings, often called child in need meetings, child protection meetings and pre-proceedings meeting (or PLO meetings). If you are invited to these meetings, it is important you get legal advice before you attend.

If you are invited to a pre-proceedings meeting, a solicitor can attend the meeting with you at no cost. You would never need to pay or a solicitor to accompany you to a pre-proceedings meeting, no matter what your income.

You do not need to worry about the cost of speaking to a solicitor, often if social services are involved with your family, legal aid or legal help will be available.

Only in very serious or urgent cases would a social worker tell you that they are going to court or try to remove your child from your care. If this happens to you or a family member and social services make an application for an emergency protection order, a care order or supervision order in relation to your child, you will automatically be eligible for legal aid and should contact a solicitor urgently.

If a friend or relative has a social worker involved in the care of their child and they aren’t getting legal advice, you should encourage them to speak to a solicitor. It is our job to help and advise people if social services are involved, to ensure that the right solution is reached for the family.

We have experts who can be contacted for free advice: