How should family and friends be involved in the pre-proceedings process?
2 minute read
The general legal duties on children’s services mean that they should aim to keep children safe, well cared for and, at home unless this would place them at risk (see section 17 Children Act 1989). If a child cannot be raised by their parents, children’s services should first look at whether there is anyone in the child’s family and friends network that can care for them.
All this means that during the pre-proceedings process, children’s services should:
- Look at who in the family and friends’ network can offer support to the child and parents. And work with the parents and family to explore this
- Look at who may be able to take on the care of the child if they can’t be safely cared for by their parent or carer
- Arrange for potential carers to be assessed.
It is important that parents discuss with their family and friends how they might be able to help before they go to the pre-proceedings meeting.
A good way of working through how the family and friends network can help is for a family group conference (FGC) to be held. A family group conference is a family-led decision-making meeting. It brings together the whole family and others who are important to the chid. Together, at the family group conference, they make a plan. See our Family group conference: advice for families page for information about this. Parents don’t have to wait for children’s services to suggest a family group conference. They can ask children’s services to arrange one.
Note: that wider family will not be invited to the pre-proceedings meeting itself. But if a parent feels that this would be helpful, then they can ask their solicitor to raise this.