Q: I recently agreed to my son going into care because I couldn’t cope. It was only meant to be short term until I got well again. Now I think social services are using the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to delay him being allowed to come back home to live with me. I haven’t been able to visit him because of the lockdown rules. I can only speak to him on the phone, and when I do it’s clear that he is traumatised by not being able to see me and he thinks this is how it’s going to be for ever. This is going to make me ill again. What can I do?
A: In the fifteen years I have been acting for parents whose children are the subject of care orders I have never come across so many dire situations as I have during the coronavirus pandemic of the last three months.
Government guidance published at the beginning of April highlighted the dangers of potential traumatic consequences for children in care, particularly with regard to contact arrangements. The advice for Local Authorities and Social Services was that contact arrangements “should be assessed on a case-by-case basis taking into account a range of factors including social distancing guidance and the needs of the child”.
Whilst face to face contact may not generally be possible at the moment, it is essential that children who are the subject of care proceedings are reassured by the professionals responsible for them. If you are concerned about your son being traumatised and have been unable to have a meaningful conversation with the Local Authority to ease your concerns, you should make an appointment to see a family solicitor who specialises in Child Law and who can advise you on the best steps to take.
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