What is a Section 20 Agreement?
Section 20 is a voluntary agreement and it is contingent on the parents’ consent.
If Children’s Services are asking you to sign a Section 20 Agreement, it means that they want you to agree to your child/children living elsewhere for a period of time. This will often be a foster care placement, which means that your child is being looked after by the Local Authority, or this may be with a family member or friend.
A Section 20 Agreement is not a Court Order, and there is no involvement from the Courts at this stage.
Signing a Section 20 Agreement does not give the Local Authority Parental Responsibility over your child/children.
- Do I have to sign a Section 20 Agreement? No. If you are being asked to do so, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible, to ensure that you fully understand the terms and implications of what you are going to be signing and what the plan is for your child/children. Our experienced Child Law Solicitors here at Hatch Brenner are happy to advise you on this.
- What happens next? Once the Section 20 Agreement is signed, there should then be regular review meetings. There should be a Child Review Meeting usually within one month, then another one in three months, and then another in six months’ time.
- What happens if I refuse to sign the Section 20 Agreement? If you refuse to sign the S.20 Agreement, but Children’s Services don’t want your child/children to remain at home with you, then they have the following options available to them: -
- Liaise with the Police to obtain a Police Protection Order which allows the Local Authority to accommodate the child for up to 72 hours.
- Apply to the Court for an Emergency Protection Order. This lasts up to seven days.
- Apply to the Court for an Interim Care Order.
- Can I withdraw my consent? Yes, although this is best done in writing and with advice from a Child Law Solicitor.
If you withdraw your consent, but the Local Authority doesn’t agree with your child/children returning home to your care, then they may at this stage decide to take matters to Court and issue Care Proceedings. You should then seek legal advice straight away.
Section 20 Agreement Guidance for Parents and Professionals