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Section 20 - What Does it Mean?

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Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 sets out that Social Services have a duty to provide children with somewhere to live either because they do not have a home or because they do not have a safe home.

If Social Services have concerns regarding your children, you may be asked to sign a ‘Section 20 Agreement’. If you sign this Agreement this means you are voluntarily agreeing to let your child live elsewhere, either with a family member or in a foster care placement.

There would be ongoing assessments of you carried out as part of Social Services ongoing involvement.

If you are asked to sign a Section 20 Agreement you do not have to do so before seeking legal advice. Here at Emery Johnson Astills we have a specialist care department who are experts in advising parents in relation to Section 20 and could support you throughout your involvement with Social Services.

Our Child Care & Social Services department at Emery Johnson Astills can advise, assist and represent you throughout your matter. This could include attending meetings with you and liaising with the Local Authority. If you would like some advice please do not hesitate to contact our expert care department and we will assess you for free legal advice as in many cases, free legal advice can be obtained.

It is important that you are aware that the key significance of Section 20 is that it is voluntary. If you object to sign a Section 20 Agreement, then Social Services cannot remove your children without an Order from the Court. Please be aware that if Social Services have significant concerns and you do not cooperate with agreements and assessments outside of Court, then it may result in an application being made to Court by Social Services. This is something our solicitors at Emery Johnson Astills can advise you on further.

If a child is placed into Section 20 accommodation, then Social Services do not share parental responsibility with you. This means that you are still entitled to make decisions relating to your children and be continuously kept informed of your children’s health and welfare.

If you would like to speak to one of our specialist solicitors within the care department at Emery Johnson Astills, please do not hesitate to call us on 0116 255 4855.