Help with Child Protection UK
Click here for the Working Together to Safeguard Children guide in PDF format.
See also SUPPORT and EDUCATION & SOCIAL SERVICES on the LINKS page
A Child Protection investigation starts with a meeting to check up on you. This might happen casually, with a Social Worker “popping in to chat” or it might be by appointment in your home. This meeting is written up on a record that goes permanently on file about you and your child/ren.
This meeting happens because Social Services get a “referral” about you. That means someone, perhaps someone you know, or it could be a stranger, or else an employee of one of the public services like a Health Visitor or teacher, has told the Social Services they feel worried about your child. When anyone tells Social Services this Social Services must decides whether or not they should to check up on you. If the answer is yes, a Social Worker, or two, is told to visit you.
The result of this meeting with you can be “No action taken.” You are unlikely to get an apology or thanks, and you need to check that the file that stays with Social Services is accurate as it can affect your child’s future.
Matters can go further and Social Services decide to hold a bigger Core Assessment meeting where they can command you to do various things as a parent, and the child/ren may be put on the “At Risk” Register. Further down the line your authority over your children may be shared with Social Services or removed all together. Your child may be removed and adopted into another family.
Right at the start as this process starts up the more you have information so you know what is happening the better. If you learn how it all works you can do YOUR key job as a parent of protecting your children, and ensure that other people who get involved do their job properly as well. There ARE some rules to protect you as you are investigated, but you do need to know what they are. There is also a procedure that lets you inspect your file for mistakes and you also need to know about that.
Parents Protecting Children UK SURVEY
Submissions for this survey will be analysed shortly for presentation to several important bodies.
A final closing date of 30th June 2014 has been set to finish analysis. Please, please, please, if you haven’t already completed a form will you do so now?
Download this version which can be returned by email or printed & posted : http://parents-protecting-children.org.uk/PPCUK-Research_survery_full_form.pdf
Finally, a Judge Calls Shaken Baby Diagnosis an “Article of Faith”
Almost a decade into a 20-year prison sentence for murdering a baby in her care, 43-year-old Jennifer Del Prete was ordered freed on bond late last week. The ruling is one of a growing number that reflect skepticism on the part of judges, juries, and even prosecutors about criminal convictions based on the medical diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome. The case is also a critical turning point.
Empty days, lonely nights – April 29, 2014
Family justice system reform – single Family Court
The single Family Court will be implemented on 22 April. On the same day, the majority of the family justice provisions in the Children and Families Act will come into force.
When the new single Family Court comes into operation it will be able to deal with all family proceedings, except for a limited number of matters, which will be exclusively reserved to the High Court. At the same time family proceedings courts will cease to exist.
Magistrates’ courts and the new single county court will not be able to deal with family proceedings. However, as the Family Court can sit anywhere in England and Wales, it will be possible for it to sit in county or magistrates court buildings.
How will the new single family court work?
We are committed to ensuring that we continue to provide court users with effective access to justice while seeking ways to improve the efficiency of the justice system as a whole. A single Family Court will allow magistrates, legal advisers and the judiciary to work more closely together.
Lay magistrates and all levels of judges will be able to sit in the Family Court. The changes mean that most proceedings will now be issued by the Family Court and cases will be allocated as soon as possible to the appropriate level of judge.
This means that cases will no longer need to be transferred between the old tiers of court. For families who need to use the court, this will help reduce delay and wherever possible, ensure greater continuity in who hears the case.
What does this mean for me?
From 22 April applicants will send their applications to their nearest Family Court point of entry. You can find the details of your point of entry on the HMCTS court finder by selecting the appropriate area of law and entering your postcode: https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/ HMCTS will then inform you of where the case will be heard.
In addition, many family court forms have been amended and a few have had their titles changed. Most old versions of forms will be accepted but certain forms have been significantly amended and so old versions will not be generally be accepted. A list of those that will not be accepted will be contained in a Practice Direction to be issued shortly.
The new forms will be available on http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/FormFinder.do from 22 April 2014. Ahead of this date, MoJ has created a temporary web page for practitioners and legal publishers from which copies of amended forms can be downloaded. Please note that the link to this web page is not intended to be disseminated to the general public. The amended forms can be downloaded from www.justice.gov.uk/family-justice-reform/01234xyz . New forms are being added as they are finalised.
Transitional arrangements are being finalised and will be set out in a Transitional Order and Practice Direction later this month. But all outstanding family proceedings that were issued in a county court or Family Proceedings Court before 22 April will continue in the Family Court. Any applications received but not issued on or before 21 April will be issued in the Family Court.
England and Wales High Court (Family Division) Decisions
Details of the full judgement can be seen here : http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2014/B1.html
Research project on difficult and uncertain medical diagnoses and allegations of child abuse.
Jan Loxley-Blount of Parents Protecting Children and Clive Baldwin, Professor of Social Work at St Thomas University, New Brunswick are conducting research into the experience of families who have been investigated for, or accused of, child abuse following difficulties in getting a diagnosis of Asperger’s, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or a connective tissue disorder, or neurological difficulties or differences such as dyspraxia or autism spectrum disorders.
If this is your experience we would love to hear from you.
Please go to one of the following websites to download the information sheet about the project.
Clive Baldwin’s Narrative Studies website: http://wp.stu.ca/narrativestudies/?page_id=580
If after reading the information you are interested in participating, please email Clive (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jan (email@example.com) and we will arrange a time to speak to you.
The important things are:
- Please read the research info carefully so you know what you are letting yourself in for: Research Information Here
If you still want to take part send a consent form to Clive in Canada: Consent Form Here
Please make sure that you’ve also completed the Parents Protecting Children UK survey which has been around since September – some of us are meeting on 7 March to look at these so please try to get it to us by 5 March. Survey Here
Parents Protecting Children UK: Research concerning Child Protection interventions
Please complete our online survey – no names required if you need to protect your identity because of, or for fear of, gagging orders.
Participate In Survey Here.
And visit the Facebook page for Parents Protecting Children UK.
False abuse claims are the new court weapon, retiring judge says
Published: July 5th, 2013 | Written By: Harriet Alexander
Justice David Collier
Photo: Sahlan Hayes
Allegations of child sexual abuse are being increasingly invented by mothers to stop fathers from seeing their children, says a retiring Family Court judge.
Justice David Collier, retiring from Parramatta Family Court at the end of the month after 14 years on the bench, sees unprecedented hostility infiltrating the Family Court, and a willingness by parents to use their children to damage one another.
“If a husband and wife really get down to it in this day and age, dirt flies,” Justice Collier said. The worst are those mothers who direct false allegations of abuse against former partners.
“When you have heard the evidence, you realise that this is a person who’s so determined to win that he or she will say anything. I’m satisfied that a number of people who have appeared before me have known that it is one of the ways of completely shutting husbands out of the child’s life.”
“It’s a horrible weapon.”
Such cases are fraught for Family Court judges. Once an allegation has been made it is impossible to ignore. The court must deem whether there is an “unacceptable risk” of abuse occurring in the father’s care.
Sometimes the allegations are obviously fabricated, other times they are probably true.
“It’s that grey area in the middle that you lose sleep over at night, and you do lose sleep,” Justice Collier said. “They’re difficult to disprove. The allegation lingers there.”
Barrister Esther Lawson, who sits on the family law committee at the NSW Bar Association, said anecdotally there appeared to be an increase in allegations of sexual abuse coming before the court, but the reasons were unclear.
She also warned that the consequence of false allegations could return to haunt the accuser, including the loss of time with their children.
“Clearly there are cases where there is reliable evidence that sexual abuse has taken place and these matters need to be properly ventilated,” Ms Lawson said.
“But if the court finds that allegations have been maliciously motivated then there may be potential consequences, including a change in the child’s primary residence.”
It is rare for Family Court judges to speak publicly about their views. Many are still haunted by the 1980 murder of Justice David Opas and 1984 bombings of the Parramatta Family Court building and homes of two judges.
Judgments are now more involved, partly so the losing party can understand the reasoning behind decisions. Justice Collier said the cases were also more complicated, as litigants raise more matters and run each of them to earth. Facebook pages are frequently called into evidence.
“A mother declares she lives a chaste and modest life and then on Facebook says, ‘Guess what I did last night’, and Dad’s only too happy to put it before you.”
He puts much of the venom down to a generation of people more assertive of their rights, and now entering relationships.
But it disheartens him to leave the court so, after a satisfying career. He used to keep a magic wand, which he has now passed on to his colleague Justice Bill Johnson.
“I wished I could wave that magic wand and say, ‘Be nice to each other’,” Justice Collier said. “That’s the only order I would have to make.”
This article reflects what FASO has heard over the past 12 years from those who contact the helpline.