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The Child Protection Team

The Care Agency works to promote the welfare of children generally and in particular those considered being ‘in need’. As far as possible, it enables children to be raised up by their families by providing a range of support services. The Child Protection Team deals with all incoming referrals concerning children; they undertake assessments. Children and families that need help may be offered advice, counselling and guidance on parenting, amongst other services.

Where the Care Agency has reasonable cause to suspect that a child in its jurisdiction is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm it has a duty to make enquiries. The purpose of such an enquiry is to decide what action, if any, is necessary to safeguard the child’s welfare. An Initial Assessment and/or Core Assessment will be conducted, which involves inter agency enquiries regarding the child’s education, health, general welfare and any particular matter which may have acted as a catalyst for the child coming to the attention of the Care Agency in the first place. If necessary, a Child Protection Conference can be convened to coordinate multidisciplinary responses to any perceived needs that child may have and a decision is made as to whether or not the child should become subject to a multi-agency Child Protection Plan.

Most children with a Child Protection Plan remain at home with monitoring and support. However, in some cases after conducting in-depth assessments it may be considered unsafe for the child to remain at home. The Child Protection Team will then accommodate the child and bring his/her circumstances to the attention of the Court in a process that is known as ‘Care Proceedings’. Work with the then ‘looked after child’ continues, looking at key issues that affect him/her. Work with the family also continues, in an attempt to improve conditions for the child’s safe return home.

In some cases, where the necessary changes do not occur, longer-term plans will be made for the child. In most cases, the Care Agency will encourage contact between Looked after Children and their families if this is consistent with their welfare.

If you have any concerns with regard to a child’s welfare, please contact: 200 78528.

The Child Placement Service

This service seeks to provide a range of placements for children who live or are found locally and require public or alternative care. The team is involved in recruiting, training and assessing prospective adopters and foster carers and in providing them with ongoing support and guidance. The team also carries out the functions of a local “Adoption Agency” and coordinates Inter-country Adoptions.

Out of Hours Social Work Service

The Care Agency operates an emergency social work service outside office hours, including weekend and public holidays thus ensuring that there is a Social Worker available 24/7.

LOCAL ADOPTION AND FOSTERING

Adoption is the legal process by which children, who cannot be brought up by their own parents, become full and permanent members of a new family. Legal parental responsibility is transferred to the new family by the granting of an Adoption Order by the Courts.

The majority of children who need permanent homes are generally several years of age. Sometimes, the impact of their early history may have affected their health, education and general development. Children usually thrive with the stability and emotional nurturing that comes with adoption. Children come from a variety of backgrounds and the Care Agency is therefore keen to have a wide range of families to draw on – from single applicants to couples and parents with children – so that a ‘match’ can be made between the specific needs of a child and the families. Most children placed for adoption will have memories of their previous family. Adopters need to be able to accept this and help the child understand their birth family history. Adoptions in Gibraltar are governed by the Adoption Act 1951. The Care Agency can provide guidance to people who are considering adoption. They can be guided through the process from the ‘enquiry’ stage through to ‘approval’ as prospective adopters and eventually, after introductions and the gradual transition of the child into the new family, through the legal process.

Further information regarding local adoptions can be obtained by making an appointment to see the Duty Social Worker.

Inter Country Adoption

The Care Agency also coordinates the local aspects of Inter-Country Adoptions.

Fostering

Sometimes families encounter difficulties that make parents unable to care for their children. When, for whatever reason, children cannot be looked after at home, the Care Agency may arrange for them to live in an approved foster home. Being a foster carer involves many tasks but primarily it is about:

  • Caring for someone else’s child(ren) in your home as part of your family
  • Providing a safe and stable environment for children and young people, from babies to 18 years
  • Enabling the children to keep in contact with their own family

You can discuss your preferred options with the Care Agency in terms of the age range of children, their sex, numbers and length of stay and this will be considered and assessed. A child may need foster care for:

  • A short time while difficulties are sorted out
  • Longer periods, perhaps until s/he reaches 18 years of age
  • A planned short stay to bring a much needed break to a family

What makes a good foster carer?

People with a variety of life experiences and from all religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds can become successful foster carers. To be a foster carer, you will need:

  • Patience and an understanding of the needs of children in foster care
  • Experience of looking after children
  • Time and energy to care for children who may have complex needs

The Care Agency will provide training and support before and during your time as a foster carer and will pay a weekly allowance for the maintenance of the child. If you are interested in becoming a foster carer contact us and we will provide you with an information pack and details of the next Information Meeting.

Looked after Children

The term ‘Looked after Children’ describes children and young people who are either in Voluntary Care or subject to a Care Order issued by the Court. They may be placed with family or friends, or placed within residential services. A team of Social Workers, Senior Care Workers, Care Workers, a Teacher, a visiting Psychologist and a visiting Drugs Counsellor, all work closely together alongside the Gibraltar Health Authority, Education Department and Royal Gibraltar Police, to ensure that the holistic needs of all ‘Looked after Children’ are optimised.

Counselling and Psychology Service

The Care Agency employs a qualified full-time Psychologist and Counsellors. This service provides therapeutic counselling support to adults and children receiving support from the Agency.

How to access or make a Referral to Children’s Services

Enquiries and referrals are taken from a range of agencies involved with children and families and from members of the public who have concerns regarding the physical, emotional and developmental needs of a child or children. Members of the public can make a referral, or make an enquiry by ringing Tel: 200 78528 and asking for the Duty Social Worker, or by calling into the office in person between 9.00am to 1.00pm Monday to Friday and making arrangements to see the Duty Social Worker. (The Duty Social Worker would usually be seen by appointment).

If a service is required outside of these times, we provide an ‘emergency only’ duty system that can be contacted via the Royal Gibraltar Police on 200 72500. The Police will contact the Duty Social Worker who will then ring you back.

Professional, or agencies who work with children, may use our dedicated email address (as well as phone, or visit in person) –Referral.concernsforachild@careagency.gov.gi. Professional Agencies will need to also complete our new Referral Form; however its completion should not deter you from raising Child Protection concerns. In all cases the Duty Social Worker will be happy to discuss your referral and offer advice and support as appropriate. A Duty Social Worker is available for this purpose between 9am and 5.15pm (Winter Hours) and 8am and 2.15pm (Summer Hours). ** Please remember however, that an Out of Hours Social Worker is available, via Royal Gibraltar Police, outside of these hours, if you have a concern for the protection of a child or young person.

For further information contact the Care Agency on 200 78528