I have been asked to sign a Section 20 agreement in relation to my child, what is this/should I sign it?

Section 20 of the Children’s Act 1989 is a voluntary arrangement made between the Local Authority and parents/those with parental responsibility to accommodate their child. This arrangement is temporary and the agreement to Section 20 can be withdrawn at any time and the child must then be returned to their care.  It can be used as a short-term solution to ensure the child is safe and can enable the Local Authority to place the child with family or friends or a local authority approve foster carer whilst investigations continue.

There are a number of reasons why you may be asked to consider agreeing to Section 20, this can include but is not limited to: 

  1. If you experience poor mental health and need time to recover 
  2. If you have bail conditions that prevent you caring for children 
  3. If you and the child are homeless 
  4. If you are struggling to manage the child’s behaviour 
  5. If there has been an allegation that requires further exploration by the police or local authority 
  6. If the child has experienced abuse or neglect 

There are sometimes good reasons to have a section 20 voluntary arrangement as this enables parents to retain parental responsibility for the child. It also ensures the child is safe. It can provide respite to parents who may be struggling.  It can also enable the local authority an opportunity to complete assessments without having to make an application to the court to formally remove the child from their parents’ care. However, it can become a longer arrangement which may not be in the child’s best interests. 

You may be asked to agree to this arrangement as part of a child protection plan or pre-proceedings process you may be eligible for legal aid. It is important you understand what this means for you and your children and it is essential for you to obtain legal advice so you can make an informed decision.

How we can help?

At Smith Partnership, we can help you throughout the Local Authority’s involvement. We have solicitors across the East Midlands who are experienced in child protection matters, If you would like to discuss this further please contact us on 0330 123 1229.

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