What you can decide about your child

Before your child becomes looked after, you should be asked either to sign a written agreement setting out the arrangements for your child, or asked verbally to agree the arrangement. In either case, the social worker should:

  • Explain the arrangements in simple language, so that you can understand it. If English is not your first language, you should ask that an interpreter be provided to help you understand what the social worker is asking you, or, if it is a written agreement and you do not feel confident reading English, it should be translated into your own language.
  • Set out the arrangements for where your child will be living, such as

    • Where your child will live
    • Who will be looking after him/her and
    • What the arrangements are for contact

If it is a written agreement, you should be asked to sign it. If you don’t understand what you are agreeing to, you should seek legal or other advice before you sign it.

The agreement should not place any restriction on your right to remove your child from accommodation, for example, the social worker should not say ‘you must give 2 days notice to Children’s Services before removing your child’. For more information about this click here.

When you agree with the social worker that your child will be looked after (but there is no court order) you have parental responsibility for your child and Children’s Services does not. This means that you have the right to agree or disagree with plans made for your child. You should never feel forced to agree to your child being looked after or to particular plans being made for them.

You should try to work with your child‘s social worker and try to agree the arrangements for your child with them, because if social workers become worried about your plans for your child, they could go to court and ask for a care order. If a care order were made, it would limit what you could decide about your child.

If you don’t agree with the social worker, or you feel under pressure to agree to plans that you are not happy about, it is best to get further advice from a Children’s Panel Solicitor or Family Rights Group’s advice service straight away.

Also, if your child is a baby or is very young, and social workers have mentioned any possible plan for your child to be placed in a foster for adoption placement, it is very important that you get legal advice from a solicitor or Family Rights Group’s advice service immediately.