Cases with Social Services
We have considerable experience in representing parents and children in cases with social services. Ian has been a member of the children panel since 1996 and Kim Stradling has been a children panel member since 1999. Carrie Meikle is currently working toward membership.
- Our client moved from another area shortly before giving birth. The social services where she had been living had decided to issue proceedings, but had formed a view that she would not succeed in caring for her baby and that it was inevitable that the baby (like a previous baby) would be placed for adoption. When we were initially instructed our client was a missing person. We assisted her to engage with social services in our area. There were proceedings, but the outcome was that she kept her baby.
- We assisted another client to defend a determined application by social services to remove her child into long-term foster care. At the conclusion of the case, the court was satisfied that it was in the child’s best interests to remain in the care of our client.
- We represented another client who had a learning disability and whose daughter had been removed into “voluntary” foster care without proper procedures being followed and without the parents giving informed consent. The local authority was heavily criticised for its actions and we assisted our client bring a claim for compensation for breach of his human rights. Although ultimately the child was not returned to our client care, the court was satisfied that he had no involvement in the abusive fact which led to his child’s removal and the court was also satisfied that the strong relationship between the child and our client should continue to be supported.
- In another case we assisted our client our client, who was a parent with a history of drug misuse to demonstrate to the court and to social services that she was sufficiently engaged with drug services that her good parenting of the children could be maintained and that it was in the best interests of her children were her family to remain together.
- We acted for a grandmother who wanted her grandchild, who is subject to court proceedings, to be placed in her care. The initial assessment of her by social services was negative and it would have been easy for her to give up. We assisted her to intervene in the proceedings and to be independently assessed. The independent assessment was much more favourable and the court was happy to make a Special Guardianship Order in her favour, securing her grandchild in her care.
- We represented a father whose relationship with their child had been undermined by the child’s mother. When social services intervened to remove the child from the mother’s care our client was imprisoned (for unrelated offences). We assisted our client to play a full role in the proceedings and to demonstrate to the court and to social services that he was committed to re-establishing and maintaining the relationship with his child. The child was placed in the care of another family member but our client secured increase in contact and the chance to become a significant part of his child’s life again.
Success in difficult cases
These are difficult cases. The evidence is often complicated. Decision-making is not always assisted by a high turnover of social workers or social workers having too many cases to deal with.
When a case gets to court there is an opportunity (within the limited timescale) for parents to demonstrate it is in their children’s best interests to be cared for at home – or if not that they can be cared for by another family member – and/or that it is in the child’s interest for the parent to maintain a relationship with the child.
50 years+ experience of successfully representing parents/grandparents
Ian and Kim have between them more than 50 years experience of representing parents in cases involving social services.
Over the years Ian and Kim, Karen and Carrie have represented parents and grandparents in numerous cases.
These have included cases where there have been issues of neglect, failure to protect from domestic abuse, sexual abuse, drug addiction, mental health issues, disagreements over health treatment. We cannot think of any permutation of issues that our team has not dealt with.
Making sure our clients get a fair hearing
When a client instructs us they can be certain that we have the independence and experience to ensure that their voice is heard within the proceedings and that when decisions are made it is on the basis of evidence rather than supposition.
Our clients are not always successful. Sometimes the enormity of the situation that they are in is too much for them to turn things around within the court timescale. However it is important that their rights to a fair hearing are respected and that they are given a fair opportunity to show that they can do what is necessary. If clients decide that the problems too great, then we will support them in making difficult, but informed choices.
Public Law Outline
As part of our Child Law service, we also assist clients with meetings involving social services including those held under the Public Law Outline – these are where social services have sent parents a letter threatening to go to court. We will travel to these meetings within a reasonable range.
If you need help – give us a call…
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01404 819098