A referral can be made to social services by anyone but generally referrals where there is a concern of non-accidental injury would come from your GP or the doctor at hospital that has just treated your baby.
It is quite right that you have sought medical attention where your baby is unwell. Where there are concerns, it is likely that a doctor will explain this to you and tell you that a referral is being made. A duty social worker will attend and the police might also arrive. You will be asked to give your account of what has happened to your child. This can be a terrifying experience but it is important that you stay calm.
If suspicion has been raised that your child may have been subjected to non-accidental injury or if care proceedings have been initiated, you may feel that matters are out of your hands but there are several important things that you can do to assist your case:
Solicitor – seek legal advice from a solicitor with up to date experience in non-accidental injury. It is never too early to seek advice. Even if a social worker or professional says that you do not need legal advice yet it is wise to check as soon as you become aware of a concern. Many solicitors deal with care proceedings but few deal regularly with this kind of specialist work so it is important that you approach someone with experience in NAI. In the event that you are arrested, you should always have a criminal solicitor present and you can ask for the duty solicitor if you do not have your own.
Diary – make a note of dates of events, meetings and any other important dates that relate to your child’s injury, admission to hospital or subsequent dealings with professions (doctors, social workers, police officers, etc). Take notes during all discussions and meetings with professionals; try to include who was present and what was discussed. Where possible, make these notes at the time or soon after the event that you are writing about.
Removal? – Consider whether there are any family members or friends who could care for your children. It may simply be that your eldest child needs looking after whilst you visit your baby in hospital or it might be that social services seek to remove the child and any other children to foster care. Always consider early on whether there are any alternative options such as a family member/friend moving in with you to provide supervision or your child going to stay with a family member. It may be that if only one person is suspected of causing NAI that they could temporarily move out of the family home. Discuss all options with social services to ensure that removal to foster care is a last resort. Do not agree to your child going into foster care without seeking legal advice from a specialist solicitor first.
Chronology – once you are back at home it is useful to check through your phone to get a chronology together. It may be that your photos, text messages or emails can assist in remembering who was involved with the child over the last few weeks or days and what was going on. The police may seize your phone so the earlier you can do this the better. Any photos of the injury will be helpful. Give this information along with any relevant photos to your solicitor.