Q: Social Services have informed me that, as of today, my twins aged 8 have been made subject to a Child Protection Plan - I do not know what this means.
Will my children ever be taken off the Child Protection Plan? Should I get in touch with a solicitor at this stage? Would there be legal aid available to me as I am a single mother receiving benefits?
Would you be able to provide me with some advice regarding Child Protection as I don’t really understand it as I’ve done nothing wrong?
Social Services have a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.
In circumstances where Social Services believe that a child is either suffering, or likely to suffer from significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect they will make the child subject to a Child Protection Plan.
The Child Protection Plan itself will be drawn up by the local authority in which you are involved with and it will set out how your children can be kept safe, how things can be made better for the family and what support they believe you will need.
Firstly, within the plan your local authority should inform you what the reason for the plan is, what actions you need to take to safeguard your children and what services they are offering you to help you achieve this.
In addition to this, your local authority should make it clear within the Child Protection Plan what the consequences will be for not keeping to the proposed plan. You should be provided with a written copy of the Child Protection Plan by your social worker.
Child Protection plans are reviewed at Child Protection Conferences which will take place every three to six months.
Within a Child Protection Conference, if social services decide that your children are no longer suffering or at risk of suffering from significant harm they will remove the Child Protection Plan at this stage.
If you are unhappy with the Child Protection Plan which has been put in place by your local authority, it would be advisable to contact a solicitor for legal advice. A solicitor would be able to represent one party once a conflict check has been carried out – other parties would be required to obtain separate representation.
Within Child Protection cases, solicitors and paralegals do not have much of a voice when it comes to Child Protection Conferences, however they would be able to attend with you as a support mechanism to make sure everything is being dealt with accordingly.
Legal help is also available to those involved with Child Protection. You may automatically qualify for legal help due to the fact that you are receiving Job Seekers Allowance.
l Ben Hoare Bell LLP has many specialist Family Solicitors who can advise you on issues such as this. To speak to a Solicitor please phone 0191 565 3112 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.