Social services involvement with children
Young children can have accidents and its not uncommon for parents to take their children to hospital or the GP to have them checked after a bump or a fall.
What to do if your child is injured
If you are worried about your child you should always seek medical attention.
The NHS recommends calling an ambulance if:
- your child stops breathing or is struggling for breath
- is unconscious or seems unaware of what is going on
- has a cut that will not stop bleeding
- won’t wake or seems to have a fit.
The NHS suggest that you take your child to A&E yourself if they have a leg or arm injury or have swallowed poison or tablets.
If you are unsure if your child needs medical help it is recommended that you call NHS 111 for advice.
What is a non – accidental injury?
Sometimes medical staff suspect that an injury has been caused deliberately or has been inflicted. This is usually called a non – accidental injury.
In those cases the medical staff will need to make a referral to social services and social services will have to decide whether it is safe for the child to go home with the parents if there is a suspicion that they may have harmed, or allowed harm to be caused, to their child.
In those cases the doctors will spend time talking to you about exactly what happened in the lead up to coming to the hospital. They may take medical photographs do x-rays, scans or a MRI scan. The doctor treating your child will have to write a report about your child’s health and why they suspect the injury may be non-accidental.
Why are social services involved?
Social Services then need to consider what happens when the injury is being investigated. Sometimes they will speak to you about whether a family member can care for your child on discharge from hospital. They may ask you to sign a safety plan which typically would ask you not to have unsupervised contact with your child until the matter can be looked into. If there are no family to help or social services don’t think that is the right option they may want to take the child into foster care. If so, they will need to ask whether you agree to this.
Social services can only place a child in foster care with either parent’s agreement or a court order. An emergency court order is called an Interim Care Order and will regulate where your child lives when the case is investigated and allows social services to share parental responsibility (parental rights) with you whilst the case is ongoing.
What should I do if I am interviewed by the police?
The police may be notified and you may be asked to be interviewed under caution.
These situations are difficult and frightening and it is important that a parent takes early legal advice as to their rights.
If social services intend to take the matter to court, a parent or a person with parental responsibility, will be eligible for free Legal Aid no matter their home financial situation or how good or bad their case is.
If you are asked to be interviewed by the police you are entitled to free representation from a solicitor at that interview and you should ask for your solicitor or the duty solicitor to attend the interview with you.