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Why are social workers making child protection enquiries?

Child protection enquiries must be made by social workers if:

  • Children’s services suspect a child is suffering significant harm or
  • Children’s services suspect a child is likely to suffer significant harm.

When children’s services make child protection enquiries they aim to:

  • Gather information about the child and their family
  • Assess the family’s situation
  • Decide whether they think the child is suffering ‘significant harm
  • Decide whether they think the child is likely to suffer ‘significant harm’
  • Decide whether they should take any action to keep the child safe and promote their welfare.

If the enquiries show a child is suffering significant harm (or is likely to) then an initial child protection conference must take place. This is a meeting arranged by children’s services. It decides whether a child should be placed on a child protection plan. A child protection conference cannot remove a child.

Social workers can’t remove a child from their home and parents unless either:

  • The Family Court has approved a plan for the child to be removed and made an order allowing children’s services to put that plan into action, or
  • A parent (or someone else) with parental responsibility has given their real and voluntary agreement to children’s services removing the child and no one else who is able (entitled) to object, is objecting. But the law says only certain people with parental responsibility can object.

See Can social workers remove a child from home? for more information.

And for more information about Family Court orders made to protect children see our Care (and related) proceedings page.

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