This article has relevance for people who live throughout the UK, however, please note that references made to legislation and procedures are for England only. Legislation, procedure and terminology will vary between all UK nations and you can find out more information about the UK’s child protection systems on the NSPCC website.
Dads whose children are considered by Social Services and/or the courts to be suffering or likely to suffer ‘significant harm’ or are already in the care system may be feeling very isolated and in need of support. Perhaps concerns have been expressed about the wellbeing and safety of their child who is living with an ex-partner. Maybe neglect, parental alcohol, drug or any other abuse is having an impact on their child’s physical or emotional wellbeing. Or is your child in local authority care (sometimes referred to as ‘looked after’) Perhaps there is a permanence plan for a child in care to be adopted or leave care following a ‘special guardianship order’ made to a relative or foster carer.
If you are still living with the other parent or living separately and you have been told that concerns have been expressed that your child or children are considered at risk, a referral may have been made to the local authority protection team or the Police to investigate and make steps to intervene to support or protect a child. When a report has been referred, a Local Authority Child Protection social worker, and often also the Police, will first assess if the child is at immediate risk of danger. You will find information about child protection procedures for each UK nation onthe NSPCC website.
If you have worries yourself that your child could be at risk in any way and whether or not it has yet been reported to the authorities, it is very important that you seek advice. The safety and wellbeing of your child is your first priority and although you may not feel able decide on what to do for the best, it could be vital for you to talk to someone about the situation.
The NSPCC operate a helpline for adults who are concerned about a child’s safety or wellbeing, even if you are unsure about the situation. It is possible for you to remain anonymous if you would like to. Alternatively, you could contact your local Social Services department directly. You will find their address and phone number on your local authority website.
If your child is already in the care system, it is really important that they are able to continue with positive, healthy relationships with their family. If you would like advice on how you can maintain contact with your child in care, please see our article directly addressing this. You can also seek support from Family Rights Group and There For You Advisory Service as they offer specialist support and information when children’s services are making decisions about your children.
If you are separated from your child’s other parent, Separated Dads offer information and a forum where you can seek support from other dads in similar situations. Families Need Fathers also give information about CAFCASS and social services.
It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at email@example.com or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker.