How to succeed in cases with Social Services

As a long standing member of the Law Society Children Panel, I have acted for numerous parents who have succeeded in keeping their children when Court Proceedings have been brought by Social Services. I have also acted for others who have not followed my advice and lost their children.

As ever, there are cases reported in the media, where children have died because agencies have missed vital warnings, or have not passed information. Naturally this can lead to a lowering of the threshold when cases are brought before the Court. I have acted for numerous parents who have said, that they know they are not perfect, but they are aware of a dozen or families who are worse; so why are they picking on me? This can make it difficult for them to accept the need to make their own changes.

With changes to the speed in which cases are dealt with (half the time or less of 2 years ago) and a “push for adoption” (which has seen the age where children are routinely considered for adoption), the stakes could not be higher. Here are a few simple tips;

  1. Accept that the most effective way to succeed is to work with Social Services. (you are going to get nowhere by telling them to “get lost”). The Judge will almost always accept the evidence of a professional over a parent.
  2. Accept there is a need to do things better.
  3. Be honest. The lie is normally worse than what was lied about. Lies are almost always found out.
  4. Be realistic about timescales. longstanding problems (drugs, drink domestic abuse) can take a long time to change. You can’t leave it to a week before the final hearing. If change is to happen and there to be evidence that it will be sustained, you have to start now (yesterday would be even better!)
  5. Have a plan B. If there are realistic family options, family members need to come forward and be assessed straight away.
  6. Get an experienced Solicitor who regularly acts for parents.
  7. Don’t get angry, get changed! Anger is pointless. You are in a fix. Change and evidence of it, is what is required.
  8. Remember, Its not about parents, its about children. The children need to have a secure home, a safe home with “good enough” parenting. It needs to happen soon
  9. But success is not impossible. Parents don’t have to become perfect. They need to show that they are good enough; in other words; that they are loving, understand basic childcare, open and honest, able to work with professionals, determined to sustained changes.

Change is possible. Success is possible. But it is not easy. But it can be done.

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