Child protection conference

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Gizmo
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 2021 1:12 pm

Child protection conference

Post by Gizmo » Mon Nov 22, 2021 8:55 pm

The social services became concerned about my child because my partner and I were having relationship issues. These were addressed with the help of mental health services and my GP. My partner and I are in a same sex relationship. My child has never had any health or emotional issues. He calls us a family. He was 6 years old until last week. He has a good school history and was very settled. Recently, a social worker asked if she could see my son in school and then visit our home to see us together. I was happy with this and was not prepared for what she did. After seeing my son at school, she saw him alone in his bedroom, then saw me. She didn’t try speaking to my partner apart from asking her history.
Very shortly after, she asked if we could go to the local council office for a meeting. On arrival, she separated us, and took me into a room. I am not British, but have lived in England for 24 years. Inside the room, the atmosphere changed. A man introduced himself as a police officer and informed me that my partner had committed a serious crime in 1998. It was Manslaughter. He didn’t listen to me and said that we were in serious danger of harm, despite us living together for some time and having a loving caring environment. Unbeknown to me, they had arranged for my son’s father to travel to where I was and asked him to care for our son. I was placed in a hotel away from my son and partner and told that I was being watched, and not to return to the family home. My partner is disabled and I am her sole carer. They weren’t interested in the welfare of anyone on that day. My partner returned home alone and they visited her at the house and told her that she was a serious risk to my child. They told her to pack my things and weren’t prepared to listen to her mitigating circumstances leading to her crime. After two days of being alone, I couldn’t bear the idea of us being separated as a family and returned home. My partner and I talked about everything, and she said that she would understand if I left but I stayed, and we were satisfied that what they had done wasn’t appropriate.
Today I went to meet my son’s father to take him to school, but he took my child away saying that he had information from social services, and he wasn’t prepared to leave him with me. This was done by him on social services advice. I was devastated. The school were unaware of anything. Later, I spoke with the family support worker at school who contacted social services. They later called to speak to me but I was too upset and my partner spoke with her. She finally listened to my partner who explained everything that happened 24 years ago. She also told her that she had worked with children from different backgrounds herself and had never harmed a child in her life. Her crime was involuntary, and this was heard. She then went on to question my partner’s mental health. She was completely honest and admitted that in the past she had had some issues, but it was not a factor in our family relationship. Later, she spoke to me and said that our relationship was not stable! It was as if she was looking for anything to separate the family. We asked her to observe us as a family, and she admitted that my son was a happy and bright boy. Next, she said that she was going to initiate a Child Protection Conference unless I was willing to give my ex full custody of my son. I told her that I wanted her to go ahead with a conference.
Is this a hopeless case?

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3264
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Child protection conference

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Nov 29, 2021 3:27 pm

Dear Gizmo,

Welcome to the forum and thank you for your post. I am sorry to hear about the difficulties that you and your family are experiencing. My name is Suzie and I will be responding to you today.

You say that children’s services had initially become involved due to concerns that had been raised about relationship issues between you and your partner. Mental health services and the GP supported the family to manage these issues. Children’s services then became aware that your partner had committed a serious crime in 1998. You were accommodated in a hotel away from your partner but you made the decision to return to your home and you plan to continue your relationship and to continue living together. Your son is currently living with his father and children’s services have advised him to not allow any unsupervised contact with you at present. You have been told that a child protection conference will be taking place.

I hope that the following information is helpful to you

If children’s services believe that a child in their area is, or may be, at risk of suffering significant harm then they must complete child protection enquiries which may result in them holding a child protection conference. It appears that children’s services do have concerns that your son may be at risk of significant harm due to the nature of the crime committed by your partner, as well as the impact of the relationship difficulties that you and your partner have experienced. The child protection conference will be run by a conference chair and professionals and parents will be invited. It will be considered whether your son is at risk of, or is suffering significant harm and if so a child protection plan will be put in place to mitigate this risk and keep your son safe. Hopefully the links I have put in here will be useful to you. You may also want to read our general webpage about the child protection process here. It is important that you fully understand the concerns that children’s services have – these should be outlined in the report prepared by the social worker for the conference. You should receive a copy of this report several days prior to the conference taking place. You may also find our guide to Working with a social worker helpful as it contains tips and advice about how best to work in partnership with children’s services.

You don’t say if you are having any contact with your son at present. Children’s services do not hold any parental responsibility for your son and as such although they can provide advice to your son’s father regarding contact they do not have the legal authority to make decisions about contact. As such it is a private law matter for you and your son’s father to come to an agreement about where your son should live and what contact he should have with you and his father. If your son’s father is refusing to let your son return to your care and you are unhappy with this then I would suggest you speak with a solicitor immediately about this and perhaps discuss making an application to court for a child arrangements order. This order will set out who your son should live with and what contact he should have with the non-resident parent. You can use the Law Society ‘find a solicitor’ tool hereto find solicitors in your local area. I would recommend that you also contact Child Law Advice to discuss; they can also advise you further on mediation which is usually required before going to court, except where there is evidenced domestic violence or child abuse or the application is urgent.

It is positive that you say that the social worker has noted that your son appears a happy boy and hopefully you will feel clearer once the child protection conference has been held. Please don’t hesitate to post back if you have any further questions or if you have any updates that you would like further advice about. You can also call our advice line on 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday, 9:30am – 3pm) if you would like to speak with an adviser.

Best wishes,
Suzie

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