Hello all….. I am back again this week with some topical chat in the area of Children Law. I am a specialist Child Care Solicitor and my work mainly involves working with families who have current involvement with Social Care.

Whenever I watch television I always am particularly interested when they deal with issues about Social Workers and the involvement of Social Care in their story lines.

Many of you may have watched The Replacement on BBC One. It was a three part drama that ended last week. It was full of suspense as the two lead female characters battled it out. However the striking thing for me was the debate caused following the second episode. In this episode Social Care become involved with the lead family following a ‘neglect’ incident. The incident was the mother leaving her relatively new born baby for around 5 minutes in a locked car whilst she went into a coffee shop to have a conversation. The child was seen in this timeframe distressed by a passer-by and the matter was reported to Social Care. As a result Social Care started an Initial Assessment of the family.

The incident in question caused much activity on Twitter and Facebook with parents commenting on whether they would do what the Mother had done…… was it Neglect?

What struck me however was how parents deal with the sudden and often unwanted involvement of a Social Worker in their lives. That made me think it is important to advise on the early stages of Social Care involvement and what Initial Assessments are.

A Social Worker can become involved with your children as a result of a referral from either a professional involved with your family, a third party with concerns or you personally. If having carried out initial enquires, i.e. considering the validity of the concern or request, they then think they need to assess matters further they may commence an Initial Assessment.

An Initial Assessment should be done within a specified time and will consider the following issues, plus others:

  • The developmental needs of the child
  • The parents/carers ability to respond to the child’s needs
  • The child being safeguarded from significant harm, and the parent’s ability to promote the child’s health and development
  • The impact the family, the family history, the wider family and environmental factors are having on the parent’s capacity to respond to their child’s needs and the child’s developmental progress
  • Action required to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child

Following completion of the assessment the possible outcomes are:

    • No further action
    • Referral for appropriate support services for the family
    • Immediate provision of a Child In Need or Child Protection plan
    • Beginning of a more detailed further Assessment
    • Consideration of further action, such as Legal Planning meetings and consideration of Court proceedings
    • Emergency action to protect a child i.e. immediate and emergency Court Proceedings

As you can see the response varies and is led by the needs of the child. As parents it is hard not to sometimes feel like you are being tested by the sudden involvement of Social Care in your lives.

If this has recently happened to you, and you would like some advice and support, please contact our team for a free and confidential chat on 01924 332 395.

Rebecca Shenton

Child Care Solicitor