Parents and Carers
As a parent, carer, relative, neighbour, member of the public or a professional who has contact with children, you may be concerned about the welfare and safety of your own child or a child you know.
Keeping children safe is everyone’s business
These concerns could be about their appearance, behaviour, development or how they are being cared for.
For confidential advice and support with behaviour, parenting, child development, emotional health and well-being text Chat Health 07520 615722.
Where can I go for more information & support?
If Staffordshire County Council’s First Response Service or Stoke-on Trent City Council’s Safeguarding Referral Team are told by someone that your child may be suffering harm or may be at risk of suffering harm, the law says that they must look into the matter to ensure that your child is safe. They may receive referral information from a variety of places, indeed anyone can refer to the First Response Service if they are worried about a child.
Harm in these circumstances means child abuse or child maltreatment. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by harming them or also by not acting to prevent harm. It is often described in one of these ways:-
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Any combination of these
Enquiries will also have to be made if a child is living with someone who has previously been involved in the abuse of another child.
- The social worker and/or police officer involved will tell you about the concerns that have been reported about your child. It may not be possible to tell you who reported these concerns.
- The social worker and/or police officer involved will need to talk to your child and any other children in your household. These interviews may be video recorded. This is to make sure that your child/ren is/are not questioned too many times. The video is then stored in a safe place by the police officer.
- Where it has been suggested that someone has caused harm to your child/ren you are likely to be spoken to by a social worker and a police officer.
- If you are able to talk openly with the people involved about the concerns the best decisions will be made for your child.
- Sometimes it may be necessary for a doctor to see your child. This will normally be a doctor who has a lot of experience of working with children. If there are other children in the family they may also need to be seen in order to make sure that they are alright.
- You will be asked for your permission before your child is seen by a doctor (although if your child is old enough to understand what is happening they can give permission themselves).
- This is often a very real concern for families. In the vast majority of reported child abuse cases it will be assessed that it is in the child’s best interest for them to remain at home with their families. This is often where problems are sorted out most effectively.
Sometimes agreement is reached for children to stay with their extended family for a short time while enquiries are made.
If Staffordshire County Council’s Families First Service or Stoke-on Trent City Council’s Safeguarding Referral Team believes it necessary, they can apply to the Court to protect your child if he/she is in danger of significant harm.
If the Police believe that your child is in immediate danger they can take your child to a safe place for up to 72 hours. A safe place may include a family member, a family friend, a foster carer or sometimes hospital.
Staffordshire County Council’s Families First Service and Stoke-on Trent City Council’s Safeguarding Referral Team have to consider the safety and welfare of your child above all else, but they also have a responsibility to try to enable families to stay together.
Children & Families Services may do one or more of the following:
- Take no further action.
- Offer you advice and help. This help may also be provided by other professionals or organisations.
- Arrange a meeting to decide what will happen next. (This is called an Initial Child Protection Conference – go to /Publications/ for further information on Initial Child Protection Conferences and Core Groups).
- If it is absolutely necessary, take legal action in order to protect your child.
You have the right to:
- Be listened to and supported throughout the investigation.
- Be involved in what is happening and told about the decisions that are being made.
- Be told in writing about the outcome of the investigation when it is over.
- Be able to complain if you feel that you were not treated fairly and have your complaint dealt with.
- You are the most important person in your child’s life.
- Your views and feelings will be heard and respected.
- There is a commitment from all Child Welfare Agencies to help and support you at this difficult time.
If you are able to work with people who are committed to help you, it is likely that your child will remain safe.
Where can I find further helpful information?
- A Solicitor who is a member of the Law Society’s Children’s Panel.
- Your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
- Family Rights Group (advice line) Tel: 0800 801 0366
- Children’s Legal Centre (child law) – Tel: 0808 802 0008 / 0845 345 4345
Support, advice and concerns
If you think a child or young person is at immediate risk please don’t delay – dial 999 to contact the police.
Call Staffordshire County Council’s First Response Service:
Phone: 0800 1313 126
Monday – Thursday 8:30am – 5:00pm Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm
Emergency Duty Service: (Out of Hours)
Telephone: 0345 604 2886 Mobile: 07815 492613