A Section 20 agreement should be a joint agreement between a parent and a local authority. The obligations of the local authority depend on the case and could include, for example, references to classes of parents or references to resources for victims of domestic violence. The agreements referred to in section 20 allow social services to place your child with foster families or other members of your family, without the need for a court order. There is a lot to wonder if I should enter into a section 20 agreement, so I have set out the answers to some of the questions that are regularly put to me by parents. The local authority or a family member must share parental responsibility in the best interests of the child. If this is the case, proceedings should be initiated so that appropriate judicial decisions can be sought. In case of doubt as to the ability of a parent to accept an agreement under section 20 and if there are doubts as to whether a child has suffered or may suffer significant harm, such agreements should not be used or proceedings initiated. Social workers should anticipate capacity issues. Consent to house a child under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 is probably not valid in cases of capacity problems. Mental performance can vary and the issue of ability needs to be monitored and checked closely. It is particularly tempting to rely on Section 20 agreements during the current COVID-19 crisis, where it is more difficult to make unannounced visits, provide support and sometimes get an urgent list of a case. Nevertheless, agreements concluded under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 should not be used as a long-standing measure and agreements should be treated with caution. A prudent local authority should, in addition to answering the above questions, ensure that the agreements referred to in Section 20 are as follows: A Section 20 agreement also cannot be appropriate if: My experience is that if a parent withdraws consent to Section 20, the local authority immediately refers the matter to the court in an existing procedure.
If they are not already in the process of proceedings, they can initiate a procedure and apply for an ICO with a distance plan. Sometimes they leave children with their parents and work as a family as part of a child protection plan. Case law specifies that agreements concluded under article 20 should be used sparingly after birth and only for short periods. Local authorities are cautioned to be particularly careful in obtaining such agreements by mothers after birth, especially when there is no immediate danger to the child and no injunction is likely to be issued (Coventry Council v C and Others  EWHC 2190 (Fam)). . . .