When would Social Services Take a Child from a Family?

There may be a number of reasons why social services would take a child from their family, however they can only do so with the consent of the parents or a court order.

Social services can take a child from their home only if there is an emergency protection order or interim care order is place, during or prior to care proceedings, or where a permanent order was granted. Social services may also be able to take a child or children from their parents and place it in temporary care if parents agreed to this by signing a Section 20 Agreement.

In instances where social services have gotten involved, you will be entitled to independent legal representation. You are entitled to legal support throughout any handlings with social services and throughout care proceedings. You are also recommended to always seek legal advice prior to signing any arrangements such as a section 20 agreement.

If concerns are raised by family members or others in the community about the wellbeing of a child or children, social services will likely get involved and assess if intervention is required. It doesn’t necessarily matter who raises concerns. Issues could be raised by family members including the parents themselves, teachers, a GP or other medical specialist, the police or other individuals in the community such as neighbours and friends.

In any case, social services’ main aim it to protect the wellbeing of all children. They, like the courts and the police, will always act in the best interest of the child, and do what they can to ensure each child’s wellbeing. What is in the best interest of parents will never be prioritised over what is in the best interest of children.

Social services will not in any case want to take a child from the care of the parents as soon as things go wrong. It’s strongly believed that children are best cared for by their parents, and that any and all efforts must be made to improve living a living situation at home before considering removing the children from their home and placing them into temporary or permanent care.

Only where is it not possible to keep a child with their family, because the child is deemed to be at risk of significant harm will social services take steps to take the child from their family.

It is important to know that social services do not have the authority to decide when to remove a child. Where they see a child at risk of significant harm, they must seek a court order to have the child removed.

Common Reasons Children are Removed from their Home

Common reasons social services take a child into temporary or permanent care:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Medical neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Neglect
  • Serious illness or death of parents
  • If the parents have been incarcerated

If social services wishes to take a child from their home permanently on the basis of one of the above, they must first provide evidence that the child’s safety or wellbeing is at risk.