What if children’s services say a child looked after under a voluntary arrangement should not see their siblings?
3 minute read
In this situation, a parent or carer can:
- Ask the social worker to give the reasons for this view and the specific information they have looked at in reaching that view
- Ask for those reasons to be put in writing, in a letter or email
- Politely remind the social worker about the legal duty on children’s services to ‘promote contact’ between siblings who are looked after in the care system (see schedule 2 paragraph 15(1)) of the Children Act 1989)
- Remind the social worker about what government guidance says about the importance of sibling contact for children. See What does government guidance say about sibling contact for looked after under voluntary arrangements?
- Remind the social worker that a voluntary arrangement is about partnership. And contact arrangements should be agreed with parents and carers who have parental responsibility for the child who is in the voluntary arrangement.
- Remind the social worker that government guidance also says that where a child in looked after under a voluntary arrangement contact is ‘a matter for negotiation and agreement between the responsible authority, the child, parents and others seeking contact’ (see paragraph 2.99 of The paragraph 2.99 of The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations: Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review’).
If there the difficulties with the plans for sibling contact don’t resolve, parents or carers may want to take some legal advice about their options. This is particularly important if a parent or carer is:
- Feeling unsure if a voluntary arrangement is the right option for their child
- Thinking about whether to exercise their right to remove their child from the voluntary arrangement
It is always best to discuss plans with children’s services before carrying them out and to see some legal advice.
Options for getting some advice include:
- Posting a question on our Parents Forum or Kinship Carers Forum to receive advice from one of Family Rights Group’s expert advisers
- Contacting us – call Family Rights Group’s specialist legal and practice advice line on 0808 801 0366 (the advice line is open Monday to Friday, from 9.30 am to 3 pm excluding bank holidays)
- Taking legal advice about from a solicitor. To do this, find a solicitor who is a specialist in children law. Or who has Children Law Accreditation. To find a solicitor, search using the ‘how to find a solicitor’ function on the Law Society website. See our Working with a solicitor guide on our Top tips and templates page for more information about finding and working with a solicitor.