LEGAL EAGLE: Do I have to work with social worker over family concerns?
A social worker has started to be involved with my family on a voluntary basis in relation to several concerns they have. Do I have to work with them? If not, what are the consequences of not co-operating?
The Local Authority needs to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in need or at risk of harm. You may be offered Early Help or a Child in Need Plan. This would offer you advice, support, and direct interventions to address any concerns.
This involvement is voluntary, but we would advise you to engage and co-operate with the Local Authority to address any concerns they may have so that issues don’t escalate.
If you do not engage with the Local Authority or if their concerns grow, their involvement could increase. They may then start an enquiry which may lead to a Child Protection Plan. If this happens, there will be Child Protection Conferences where a decision will be made by the professionals involved to keep your children safe. They will decide whether there is a need for a plan and if so, create a plan that would address their concerns. This involvement is not optional. It is important that you engage with this plan as the Local Authority may consider progressing things further if you do not.
If things are still not going well, then the Local Authority may commence the Public Law Outline (PLO) process where they will hold meetings to discuss their concerns and whether there is a need for court action. Unless you take positive steps to address the concerns, the Local Authority will consider making an application to court to issue Care Proceedings to ask the court to make decisions in relation to the children and their care.
There has been a recent Care Report completed by the Local Authorities in the North East which gave a number of recommendations in relation to Children’s Services which includes working more “in partnership” with families. The Local Authority should work with you to resolve the concerns and therefore, you should also work with them.
If you would like some legal advice in relation to the above please contact Ben Hoare Bell LLP solicitors on 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected] Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.