Care proceedings can be a particularly challenging time for families. Some parents feel that the proceedings are unnecessary and at times unnecessarily invasive. – they just do not understand or see the point. Our job as legal practitioners is to reassure the clients, advise them and guide them through what is often a difficult process.
Most parents are understanding, and able to engage with the constant communication with the local authority and the many assessments they must do. However, there are others who struggle with change and taking direction – this is what may have led to the proceedings in the first place!
Understandably, as these proceedings are a new experience for most parents, some struggle with engaging and tend to challenge everything that is said to them; sadly, their unwillingness to engage can then influence the proceedings.
As lawyers, we take these challenges in our stride and strive to reassure, advise and guide parents down the right path. This is not always easy and there can be resistance, however, I often find that sometimes, all the parents need is a listening ear and someone to understand their point of view.
As a trainee solicitor here at NLS, I have the privilege of engaging with parents involved in care proceedings on a daily basis, these are some of the strategies that I have used to help both myself and the parents navigating this difficult time: –
- Remembering to stay calm is key.
- Make sure that the parents feel heard, by listening and providing reassurance when necessary – sometimes they just need someone to listen to them.
- Advising where necessary and seeing if a temporary solution can be offered at that time.
- Documenting any grievances, the parents may have and assuring them that they will be dealt with where possible.
- Reviewing the available next steps that could be taken and coming to some sort of conclusion.
These steps have helped me to reassure and help our parent clients; they have also helped me build trusting relationships that allow parents to open up to me, which in turn helps the proceedings and outcomes.
To reduce stress, my advice for parents involved in care proceedings is to make sure they engage with the proceedings as much as possible, remember to take care of yourself, ensure you are the best version of yourself for your child, and work with us – we are here to help you!