Traveller and Romani Advice and Information Network
Local authority social services support families and safeguard children who may be at risk of harm, whether from family members or others. Families often feel anxious at the prospect of social services’ involvement because of experiences they may have heard from others, or just because they are frightened that social workers will remove their children from the family home.
These fears are natural but a child will only be removed if there is very clear evidence that they are at risk of significant harm, and there is a court order in place too. If the social worker considers that your child is in immediate danger, the police can take a child into ‘police protection’, but they have to return your child to your care within the next 48 hours unless the court makes an Emergency Protection Order (EPO).
There are different departments in social services. These support varying needs. There is an adult social services department which provides services to the elderly and working age adults who have learning difficulties, physical or mental health problems, or addictions.
If a child is looking after a parent with a disability, they might be referred to as a ‘young carer’ and there may be special provisions in place to help if this is the situation. Often, social care services for adults who have a mental illness or an addiction are provided by a mental health trust.
It is common for these different departments to work together if a family or individual needs this. The aim is to coordinate their services in the interests of the family as a whole. If there are concerns that a child may be suffering, or is at risk of harm, the work with the family will be led by a social worker from the children’s services department (sometimes referred to as Children’s Social Care).
Social services and your family