When can Social Services remove your children from your care
When Social Services are involved with your family it can be a stressful time during which you are constantly worried that your children could be removed from your care. You may not understand what Social Services can and cannot do.
Here at Emery Johnson Astills we have a specialist care department who are experts in child care law and can advise, assist and represent you throughout your involvement with Social Services. We will assess your eligibility for free legal advice through Legal Aid, as in many cases, free legal advice can be obtained.
It is important to know under what circumstances your children could be removed from your care:
- With your consent.
One way that your children could be removed from your care would be if you voluntarily agreed to this. This could be for a time limited period and it may be for your children to live with a friend or family member or in foster care. This is called a section 20 agreement. You can read more about section 20 agreements in our article here.
- Obtaining a Court Order.
If Social Services are signifincantly concerned about your children and they believe that they are at risk of significant harm they may consider asking the Court to make an Interim Care Order. A Care Order is an Order that grants the Local Authority shared parental responsibility for the children so that they can make any decisions on matters relating to the children, such as where they live and with whom. This may include the decision that the children live in foster care whilst assessments are undertaken of the parents/carers of the children to decide if it is safe for the children to return to live with them.
Another Order that Social Services could ask the Court for is an Emergency Protection Order. This is an Order that can be made if the children are at risk of significant harm and this requires immediate removal from their family. An Emergency Protection Order can last up to 8 days, and then be extended for a further 7 days. Following this, if Social Services still believe that the children need to remain out of the care of their parents/carers they would need to apply to the Court for an interim Care Order.
- Police Protection Order.
Sometimes there may be a serious incident that occurs and because it is not possible to obtain a Court Order (due to the Court being closed) Social Services can ask the police to exercise their protective powers to remove children from their family. This is not a Court Order and the police can use this power when a child is at risk of significant harm and this requires immediate removal from their family. A Police Protection Order only lasts for 72 hours and if Social Services believe that the children must remain out of the care of their parents/carers for longer than this the Local Authority must obtain a Court Order before the 72 hours expires.
If you are told by Social Services that they are going to apply to the Court for an Order to remove your children from your care it is important that you seek legal advice. Emery Johnson Astills’ care team will be able to advise you regarding Social Services’ involvement with your family.