Public Law Children Proceedings relate to any issues involving the Local Authority/Social Services.
MSB Family Department prides itself on its expanding Public Law Children Department, that has a reputation amongst the local community and fellow professionals for excellence, we are considered one of the leading Public Law providers in the North West. We are committed to safe guarding children and fighting to keep families together.
We have a wealth of experience in representing children, parents, grandparents and other family members in these proceedings.
It is extremely important to note that legal aid is available, often on a non‑means tested basis for the parent, child and and/or carer, when Social Services become involved in the family.
It can be an extremely daunting and frightening time and we appreciate that families require expert support and guidance through the legal process. MSB have an expanding team who are accessible and approachable and ready to offer that expertise.
Social Services can become involved in a family for many reasons; anonymous tip‑off, referral from school, referral from a health professional, referral from the Police, if they are called out to an incident in the home, where there is a child or more tragically if a child is presented at hospital, having sustained injuries that the hospital or health profession feel are non‑accidental. Legal representation is required from the minute social services become involved
The Role of Social Services in the Family
Social Services were established to support families and safe-guard children who were thought to be at risk of harm, whether from family members or others. The level of support that they can give varies depending upon the family and the needs of the child concerned. It is to be stressed that the role of Social Services is to support families and wherever possible to support a child remaining with the family. It is therefore, very important that as far as possible, families try to work with Social Services.
Social Services have a statutory obligation to safe-guard and promote the welfare of vulnerable children and can provide a wide range of services to children and parents, usually within their own home environment. It is natural that parents feel anxious when Social Services become involved, this may be from their own personal experience, what they have heard from others or just a genuine fear that their child will be removed. These fears are natural but a child will only be removed if there is clear evidence of risk of significant harm and a Court Order is required to remove a child.
The Importance of your Child being deemed to be at Risk of Significant Harm
If Social Services can convince a Court that your child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, an Order of the Court can be obtained granting Social Services Parental Responsibility in respect of your child. Once Social Services have Parental Responsibility for your child, they can make decisions in respect of that child including the decision as to where that child resides.
Harm is defined by the Children Act 1989 as “Ill treatment or the impairment of the health or development of the child”. The risk of significant harm can also incorporate, emotional harm and for this reason there have been many recent cases in which children who are in a household in which there is domestic violence, have been held to be at risk of a significant emotional harm and have been removed.