The local authority is tasked with the obligation of protecting children welfare. Under the Family and Law of Child are:
- Child Support Act,
- Financial Orders for Children
- The enforcement of financial obligations to a child or children.
Should issues arise of child abuse, the local authority is bound to get involved with the family in question. In extreme cases where the child is in danger, the local authority has a jurisdiction to commence investigations into the matter.
There are a couple of ways through which the local authority can be involved in cases where the child’s welfare is at stake. The following people can report instances of child abuse to the local authority:
- A neighbor or friend.
- The child himself/herself.
- The police.
- Any member related to the child’s family.
- Teachers or members of staff within the child’s school.
- The child’s doctor.
After a case of abuse of child welfare has been reported, social workers within the local authority should come up with a decision as soon as possible on what actions need be undertaken. The agreed-upon measures must be told to the person who has reported the case of child abuse.
Should the social workers determine that auxiliary action is required, investigations should commence. According to the law, investigations should not take more than forty-five working days starting from the date when the case was first reported. The duration of investigation is subject to taking into account the risk at which the child stands, should it be seen that the child is at more risk, investigations may need to be done more quickly.
After finalizing the investigations, the social workers will then decide on whether further action is required or not. Examples of decisions that they could make are:
- Keep tabs on the situation and offer constant support.
- Call for a child protection conference.
Child protection conference is a joint meeting comprising of people concerned about the child’s welfare e.g., parents, social worker investigating the case, the child’s doctor or teacher. Their primary objective is to decide on what is best for the child. Some of the decisions that a child protection conference can make are:
- Document a protection plan on what steps and actions need be done to protect the child’s welfare.
- Request for a court supervision order, this means that the social worker will play a significant role in the child’s life ensuring that she or he is well taken care of.
- Commence court action to take the child under the care of a social services program.