Section 20

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Fallenangel9719
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:44 pm

Section 20

Post by Fallenangel9719 » Tue Jan 18, 2022 9:08 pm

Hi there
I had my gorgeous little boy on the 09th January this year and agreed with social services to sign a section 20 order because of my emotional and mental health. Since having my little boy I've moved into a mother & baby unit, I've went back to the doctors and got my medication sorted and I've joined up with talking therapies. However I still havent heard from my sons social worker about my next steps or anything and I was wondering if anyone had any advice?


May I add I see my son four times a week supervised contact ninty minutes each and I've got a really good solicitor

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3453
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Section 20

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Jan 19, 2022 2:20 pm

Dear Fallenangel9719,

Welcome to the parents' board and thank you for your post.

You say in your post that you had a son in January this year and agreed to a section 20 due to your emotional and mental health. You say you have moved into a mother and baby unit. You also say that you have gone to the doctors, are taking medication and have joined talking therapies. You are not clear on what the next steps are and would like some advice on what to do next.

In your post you also mention that you have supervised contact with your son four times a week - as you mention a mother and baby unit, I am unclear as to whether you are currently living with your son or whether he is placed somewhere else? You say you have signed a section 20 and that you have a solicitor - you do not mention care proceedings, and I am assuming that you are in pre-proceedings - can you confirm if this is the case. If you are in pre-proceedings, you should have had a PLO meeting with your social worker, a team manager, the LA's solicitor and your solicitor. The social worker should have explained to you what their concerns are and a plan of action should have been developed, with clear steps that they would like you to take to avoid initiating care proceedings. Has this happened? You can take a look here for more information on pre-proceedings.

In regards to the section 20, this is a voluntary agreement between you and the local authority. It means you have consented to your son being accommodated by the local authority and that he is now a looked after child. The local authority has certain duties to your son as a looked after child - you can read more about these here. One of these duties is to develop a care plan and permanence plan for him. Please see here for more information on these plans. Have you got a copy of either of these? These plans should clearly outline how your son's needs are being met and what the plan is for his longer-term care. The care plan should be reviewed at a looked after child review. The first review should take place no longer than 4 weeks after the child first becomes looked after and should be chaired by an independent reviewing officer (IRO). It is important you know who the IRO is and that you are aware you can speak to them about any concerns you have.

I would also be interested to know what was agreed when you consented to the section 20 - were you clear on how long this may be for? Please remember that you can withdraw your consent at any time, but if the local authority is significantly concerned about your son returning to your care, they may apply to the courts for an order to prevent this. Please take a look here for more information on section 20 and associate processes.

I would advise that you request a meeting with the social worker as soon as possible to ask them specifically whether there are any plans to initiate care proceedings, what may happen if you withdraw your section 20 consent and what they would need to see from you in order for them to feel that your son can safely return to your care. If you do not receive a response from the social worker, you can ask to speak to the team manager, the IRO or your solicitor. As your son is new-born, it is particularly important that there is a clear plan - section 20 should not be used as a long-term option for children to live outside of the family home if the local authority has significant safeguarding concerns.

I hope you have found this helpful.

Best wishes,

Suzie.

Happybunny1
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2022 5:15 am

Re: Section 20

Post by Happybunny1 » Mon Feb 14, 2022 10:59 am

hello,

i recently had my beautiful 3 year old son removed from my care under an EPO&forced to sign a section 20. He is currently living with my mum on the 21st this will be a legal thing as it’s going to court. I have a solicitor involved. I want my son back in my care. The reason for him being removed was my housing conditions because they weren’t the best due to severe mental health. I would never ever ever do anything to hurt my baby boy all I want is him home with his mum. Can I get my son back? Online is saying 6 months to get him back he’s already been with my mum 1 month. I feel like I’ve shown a lot of improvement. I’ve not really been told a proper time scale to get him back. I was in foster& adopted myself I don’t want that for son. He is wanting me & to come home. It is killing me. I don’t know when the social worker is coming out to see me again. I’m so worried I’ll never get my son back. He needs his mummy. I can’t go on. I need to know I’ll get him back. I’ll do whatever it takes he can’t go into care or be adopted. I just want to be a mum again.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3453
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Section 20

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Feb 16, 2022 3:03 pm

Dear Happybunny1,

Welcome to the parents’ board and thank you for your post.

You say that your 3 year old son was removed from your care under an EPO and that you were forced to sign a section 20. Your son is currently living with your mother and there is going to be a court hearing on the 21st of this month. You say he was removed because of your home conditions, resulting from your severe mental health. You have not been told a proper timeframe for when he may be returned to your care, and would like to know when this might happen – you are worried that he will not be returned.

Firstly, I am sorry to hear about the distressing and painful situation you are experiencing. You say your son was removed under an EPO, which can last up to 8 days, and a further 7 days if an extension is granted. A local authority may apply for an EPO if they are very concerned that a child is at risk of imminent significant harm. I am presuming that you then signed a section 20 after the EPO expired – is this correct? You say you were forced to do this. I am sorry that you were put in this situation; a parent should never be coerced to sign a section 20 and you should always be aware as to what you are agreeing to.

A section 20 agreement means that you have consented to the local authority accommodating your son – in your case, he is now living with your mother. It does not mean that the local authority has parental responsibility for your son and they should include you in any decisions that are made about him. It also means that he is what is called a ’looked after child’. The local authority therefore has certain duties towards him – I think it would be helpful for you to read about these here. One of the duties is to promote contact between you and your son – you do not mention what contact arrangements you currently have but is important that you are able to still see him.

Whilst a section 20 placement is based on your consent, if you withdraw your consent now, the local authority is likely to make an application to the court for an EPO again. You say that the local authority are taking you to court now – this is calling initiating care proceedings. This means that the local authority are asking the court to make a decision about the long-term care of your son. You are right in saying that care proceedings should last 6 months and at the end of this, the judge will make a decision about where your son should live.

At the first hearing at the end of this month, the judge will also make a decision about where your son should live for the duration of care proceedings. It is likely that the local authority will ask the court to make an interim care order. This means that the local authority will share parental responsibility with you and may choose for him to continue living with his grandmother until the final hearing.

You would like your son to return to your care and therefore it is really important that you understand why children’s services do not think he is safe in your care at the moment. It may be that you will be expected to undergo some assessments and engage with support services to address the worries that are raised. It is important that you make clear what help you need.

You might find it helpful to read our page on care proceedings for more information on what you can expect from each stage.

As part of care proceedings you will be entitled to a solicitor to represent you. It is essential that you make contact with a solicitor if you having already done so and explain your current situation to them.

I hope you have found this helpful.

Best wishes,

Suzie.

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