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 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.