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Social Services and Your Family

It is imperative that you cooperate fully with social services if they become involved with your family, as they are able to make decisions regarding your children’s future.

At Lupton Fawcett, we understand that involvement from social services can lead to feelings of fear, anger and confusion, which is why we are here to provide advice and support throughout social service proceedings.

If you have been contacted by social services and require representation at meetings, or want to know more about your rights, contact us today by calling 0333 323 5292, or by filling in our online form and someone will be in touch.

What are Social Services?

Social services can become involved with a family for a variety of reasons, including providing support during stressful times, helping care for disabled children, when a child is placed up for adoption and when a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm.

They can be called upon by a family for assistance, but it also has a duty to intervene when a referral is made regarding concerns of a child’s welfare. The action taken by social services depends on the situation, the risk of any harm to a child and levels of cooperation by a family.

Upon a referral, social services have five options, including:

  1. Taking no further action
  2. Providing support to the family
  3. Referring the matter to other agencies for assistance
  4. Undertaking an initial assessment to evaluate a family’s case
  5. Making an application to court to protect a child from harm

The Responsibilities of Social Services

If social services identify issues of concern in relation to you children, they may:

  • Create a Child in Need Plan and arrange a Child in Need Meeting outlining parents’ responsibilities and the services required to improve a child’s welfare
  • Undertake an assessment if a social worker believes a child has been harmed or is at risk of harm
  • Hold a Child Protection Conference meeting, which allows parents and professionals involved in a child’s life (e.g. teachers, health visitors, GPs and so on) to share information and come to a decision as to whether children have been subject to abuse
  • Place a child on the Child Protection Register and outline a Child Protection Plan to identify to parents the expectations and responsibilities to ensure a child’s safety
  • Initiate a Public Law Outline (PLO) in serious cases where a social worker’s concerns have escalated, possibly resulting in court proceedings being issued

It is imperative that parents attend any meetings arranged by social services, so you can work together to improve the welfare and safety of a child. Our specialist solicitors can provide legal representation throughout proceedings to ensure you fully understand the situation and your options.

For more information on social services, please take a look at our FAQs below.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.


Social services are involved with my family, what can I do?

If social services have concerns about a child, they are not going to go away. You must co-operate with them or the situation may well escalate. It is important you speak to a solicitor as soon as possible.

What is an initial assessment?

An initial assessment is undertaken by a social worker to determine whether a family is in need of any additional services or support and what, if any, further action needs to be taken.

What is a Child in Need Plan?

Following an initial assessment, a plan may be drawn up which will identify which services are required to meet a child's needs.

What is a Child in Need Meeting?

A Child in Need Meeting is called to review the Child in Need Plan to ensure that parents and professionals working with the child are all clear about the services required and their responsibilities to meeting that child's needs.

What is a Section 47 enquiry?

If social services believe there is a risk that the child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm then an S.47 enquiry will be undertaken. This enquiry will determine whether social services need to take further action to safeguard the child, either by holding a child protection conference, calling a Public Law Outline meeting or making an application to Court for a Care Order or Supervision Order.

What is a Child Protection Conference?

This is a meeting held where all parents and professionals involved in the children’s lives (for example, teachers, health visitors, GP's) are invited to attend the meeting to share information. It is chaired by an Independent Chair who will guide the meeting.

Once information has been shared a decision will be made by all those in attendance as to whether or not the child is at risk of significant harm and if so under which category: Physical, Emotional, Sexual or Neglect. If the child's name is placed on the Child Protection Register, a Child Protection Plan will be formulated. Parents are encouraged to attend these meeting and can take a legal representative with them.

What is a Child Protection Plan?

A Child Protection Plan outlines the areas of concern held in respect of a child and how those concerns are to be dealt with. It identifies the expectations and responsibilities of parents and professionals to ensure the child is kept safe. The plan is regularly reviewed in Core Group meetings.

I have received a Public Law Outline letter, what do I do next?

It is imperative that you seek legal advice. The PLO letter means that social services concerns have escalated and court proceedings are being contemplated. The letter sets out the areas of concern and what steps social services require you to take to bring about change. Details of a PLO meeting are contained within that letter. It is extremely important that you attend that meeting and can attend with legal representation.

Social services have placed a child in my care, what rights do I have?

In some cases where social services have concerns regarding the parenting of a child, the child is placed with a family member. These are informal arrangements but can be lengthy. It is important that the carer obtains legal advice to ensure their position is protected and they are receiving both practical and financial support from social services.

Contact Us for Help

We provide advice on a wide range of legal issues to clients around Yorkshire from our offices in Leeds, York and Sheffield. For an initial discussion on the specific details of your case contact our specialist solicitors today.

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