What do social services do? 

Social services teams are part of your local council. Their job includes helping people who are in need of additional support or are at risk of harm. This can include helping babies and children, and also helping adults with certain care needs. 

The part of social services that works with children and their families is called children’s services (we use ‘children’s social services’ to refer to these teams). 

Children’s social services departments have two main responsibilities: 

  • To support children and their families. This can include providing information, advice and signposting to other services. 

  • To work to protect children who are suffering harm or are at risk of harm.  This second type of work is called ‘child protection’ or ‘safeguarding’. 

Why might I be referred to children’s social services?  

A referral can happen if healthcare professionals have good reason to think that: 

  • You are struggling, or will struggle to meet the needs of your baby when it is born, and may need additional support, or 

  • Your child will be at significant risk of harm once they are born. Significant harm means that the way a child is cared for is seriously damaging their health or development.