Someone said they think I am not looking after my children properly, what rights do Social Services have to see my child?

Social Services have a legal duty to investigate the welfare of any child (Section 47 Children Act 1989) if they are informed or receive information that a child is:

  • suffering significant harm or likely to suffer significant harm,
  • they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child may be or is likely to be suffering significant harm

If this applies, Social Services must either make enquiries themselves or require other professionals to do so.

‘Harm’ can include both physical, emotional and psychological harm or a risk of such harm occurring. Therefore it does not have to be that your child has suffered physical harm for concerns to be raised.

It will usually be in your interests to fully cooperate with professionals as part of their investigations. The social worker will have a legal duty to see your child to make sure he or she is safe and well.

What if I refuse to let Social Services see my child?

Unreasonable refusal of access to your child could be sufficient grounds for Social Services to take further action which could include an application to court. If they make an application to court, they will need to provide the court with some evidence to show that they needed to see your child urgently and what the concerns are.

If Social Services’ concerns are right and your child is at risk of harm, then by refusing a professional to have access to your child you could be placing your child at increased risk.

Furthermore,  if Social Services make an application to court then decisions can be made in respect of your child by the court rather than by you in consultation with professionals. Furthermore, your refusal to allow a professional to have access to your child might be seen by the court as reflecting upon your level of parenting if your refusal was unjustified.

What if let social services see my child and they are still worried?

Hopefully by allowing social services to see your child you can reassure them that everything is ok. If social services are still concerned, they will decide what action might need to be taken to improve the situation. This could involve working with you voluntarily for a period of time and keeping things under review. Social services may put in place support services to help you and your child.

If they are really concerned, they might say that they think that your child should stay somewhere else or they could apply to court. In this case you should get urgent legal advice about your options and what you should do.

In most cases involving social services you are likely to get legal aid for legal advice and assistance.

We have a specialist family team who regularly advice and represent parents and extended family members  in cases involving social services including in emergency and out of hours cases.

Call us on 01325 281111 if you need help or information.