Q: My daughter and her partner have been furloughed from work since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. She texts me all the time saying how abusive her partner is being in front of the children, but because of the lockdown I have not been able to do anything to help her. She has worried all along about the neighbours hearing their rows because social services have been involved in the past. Now one of the neighbours has phoned social services. Could they apply for a care order? And if so, would I be allowed to have the children to live with me?
A: Social Services have a duty to take action if they have received information that makes them worried about your grandchildren’s welfare. And yes, they can apply to the court for a care order if they think the children have been harmed or could be harmed. However, it is likely that before they did that, they would call a ‘child protection case conference’ to see whether the children can be properly protected without applying for a care order.
As the children’s grandmother it is possible that you may be able to attend that meeting, but you would need to show that you have been involved in their care before the COVID-19 lockdown, or that you are there to support your daughter. If a care order is applied for and granted, social services will have a duty to try and place the children in a safe family environment. Sometimes they decide that placing children with a grandparent is preferable to placing them in foster care. A solicitor would be able to advise you on the best way to apply to become a kinship carer for your grandchildren and help you to become involved in any social services investigation.
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