Protecting Children. Information for families and carers involved in the child protection process

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1 Protecting Children Information for families and carers involved in the child protection process

2 This leaflet provides information for families who are involved in the child protection process. It will explain the steps that social services and the police go through when seeking to investigate whether a child needs protection. What do we mean by child protection? Sometimes children suffer abuse. The abuse can happen inside or outside the home by a family member(s), a person known to the family or a stranger. Abuse can be: physical injury being hit, kicked or punched physical neglect not being properly fed or clothed, poor hygiene sexual abuse inappropriate sexual behaviour or language, indecent assault, sexual intercourse, online grooming emotional abuse constantly criticised, ignored, humiliated, exposed to family violence Whose responsibility is it to protect children? All children deserve to be protected from abuse and it is everyone s responsibility in the community to protect children. The two agencies that investigate reports of abuse are the police and social services and we encourage professionals or members of the public to contact us if they are worried about a child. Once we have received information, we have a legal duty to investigate whether a child is safe and well. What happens in an investigation? The investigation will be carried out by a social worker or a police officer (if it is felt that an offence may have been committed) or both. They will check all records that may be held on the child and speak to other professionals (doctors, teachers, health visitors) who may know the family and the child. They will also speak at length with the person who reported their concerns, establishing why they are concerned and any circumstances that led to this.

3 The home visit The social worker and possibly the police officer will carry out a home visit as part of a child protection investigation and explain to the family that concerns have been raised. They will want to see the child and any other children in the household and will ask the parent s permission to speak to each child on their own if they are old enough. On rare occasions it may not be possible to seek consent from the parents. If this happens, the reason why the child was interviewed will be explained to the parents. Both the social worker and police officer will have had special training to work with children and families. What if a parent is accused of harming their child? If there are concerns that a parent may have committed an offence against a child, they will be interviewed by the police. Their rights will be explained and they will be able to seek legal advice and support. Medical examination If it is thought that a child may be injured or in need of medical treatment, a doctor will need to examine the child to check for any signs of harm. Usually parents can come to the hospital with their child for this examination. The physical examination will be carried out with respect and sensitivity by an experienced doctor. If the child is old enough, the doctor will ask their permission before they carry out the examination. If the child is very young, the parent s permission will be requested. If a parent refuses, the social worker may decide to seek legal advice. The initial assessment The social worker will use all the information they have gathered from the family, child and other professionals and make an initial assessment of the child s needs. This means considering all aspects of the child s life including their development needs, the way they have been parented, the wider family, the home and social environment.

4

5 Can a child be taken away from the family home? Only in the most extreme cases when we think the child may be in immediate danger would we remove a child from their home and family. As an agency, we are keen to keep families together and support them with their difficulties. If it is felt that the child is at immediate risk and we need to remove a child from their home, we will request the support of other family members to look after the child. If that is not possible, the child may be placed with a foster parent whilst the child protection investigation is underway. What support can parents or carers expect to receive during an investigation? We understand that this will be a very stressful time for families. Our social workers will be professional, open and sensitive and keep them informed as the investigation process develops, unless to do so places the child in immediate danger. If a family feel that we have not met these standards, they should speak to their social worker s line manager. Social work teams wish to work in partnership with parents and will aim to resolve concerns as best they can. However if families are still not satisfied, they can make a formal complaint. Information on making a formal complaint is available in leaflet form from team offices. What happens next? A social worker will speak to the parent or carer about the results of the investigation including whether they consider the child to be at risk. One or more of the following might happen: there are no concerns about the child and no further action will be taken there may be some concerns and the social worker may want to work with the family to provide information, support and advice to help sort out any problems they may be having. This may include referring them for support to other agencies voluntary arrangements may be made for the child to live with a family member or friend there are serious concerns about the safety and wellbeing of the child and a child protection conference will be arranged it may be necessary to take further legal action to protect the child

6 For more information If you have any concerns or you want more information, please speak to your social worker or call /3400 Communications Nov

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