When you agree to your child being looked after, you have the right to end that agreement at any time and bring your child home. But you should first discuss your plans with your child’s social worker. This is because if the social worker does not agree to your child coming home right now, they could go to court to get an order which can limit your right to make decisions about your child.
1. If the social worker agrees that your child should return home they should:
• Hold a review meeting to discuss the arrangements for your child coming home to your care.
• Listen to your views about what support will be useful to help with the return home.
• Ensure the help you and your child will be given is written in the plan. This may include help from a family support worker, parenting classes and/or support from other professionals.
• Give you a copy of the plan.
2. If the social worker doesn’t agree that your child should return home you should:
• Check what the care plan says about your child coming home and discuss your child’s return home with the Independent Reviewing Officer.
• Discuss any concerns about your parenting with the social worker. Ask them to explain in writing what they think you need to do or change to be sure that your child would be well looked after and protected at home. Maybe the social worker may feel more confident about your child returning to your care if, for example, you completed a parenting course. If so, ask them to arrange one for you.
• Ask the social worker if your child can spend more time with you and have (more) overnight stays with you. Think about what other arrangements would be helpful to you and your child to make the move back home work well and then talk to the social worker about how this can be put in place.
• Consider asking the social worker to refer you for a Family Group Conference to involve your wider family in offering practical support for your child’s return home.
If the social worker and the Independent Reviewing Officer will still not agree to plan your child’s return home, you should get independent legal advice from a Children’s Panel Solicitor or contact Family Rights Group’s free advice line. It is really important that you understand what action children’s services will take if you remove your child.
If the social worker feels your child would not be safe or well looked after at home with you, and that there is evidence that your child could be harmed if they return home, the local authority may apply to court for an emergency protection order or an interim care order for your child. If this happens you should speak to a Children’s Panel Solicitor. For more information see Advice Sheet 15: Care (and related) proceedings.