What is a social worker expert witness?
A social worker expert witness, more often called an independent social worker, is a trained social worker who undertakes independent assessments at various stages of legal proceedings, either at the pre-proceeding stage or during proceedings. This page is limited to the role of independent social workers working with families involved with children’s social care.
Why might you need to instruct a social worker expert witness?
An independent social worker may be needed to provide an assessment within the parenting assessment framework in cases where a local authority has limited resources to complete such assessments, or where a specialist tool is required, e.g. the Parent Assessment Manual (PAMS). Although second opinion independent social worker assessments are sought less frequently following the judicial review of how care proceedings are conducted, leading to tighter timescales and greater control on costs, independent social workers may still be instructed to provide a second assessment in cases where a party to the care proceedings manages to make a case that the first assessment was not conducted fairly or where there is significant concern with the opinion.
What sorts of cases might a social worker expert witness take on?
Independent social workers may accept cases where the local authority is working with a family because they believe the child or children are at significant risk of harm. The case may be in pre-proceedings or the case may be in care proceedings where the case is before the family courts. Under section 31 of the Children’s Act 1989, an important threshold must be met before the case may go into pre-proceedings or care proceedings may be issued. The threshold is whether the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. The types of harm include:
What is the Parent Assessment Manual (PAMS)?
PAMS is used to work with, and assess parents when there are child protection concerns. The PAMS assessment provides a framework for assessing parents with learning difficulties or disabilities and gives the social worker techniques to use when working with parents and families with a learning difficulty or disability.
A PAMS assessment assesses parenting and the level of parental engagement with the assessment. PAMS assessments take up to 12 weeks to complete. They are carried out in a children’s centre or in the community. During the assessment, the parent or parents will be asked about their knowledge and understanding of the different areas of parenting, which include:
- Child care and development
- Behavioural management
- Independent living skills
- Safety and hygiene
- Parental health
- Relationships and support
- Impact of the environment and community on parenting
Parents will be observed to see how they put their parenting skills into practice and whether they take on board advice given to them.
What independent social workers does Expert Court Reports have?
We have two experienced and able social worker expert witnesses who work on our panel: Lola Olufayo and Cath Thomas. As with all our experts, Lola and Cath will only take a case which falls safely into their area of expertise. This is the mark of a good and reliable expert witness.
Why use Expert Court Reports?
Independent social worker expert witnesses should come with years’ of social worker practice as well as specific competencies to act as an expert witness. Look for someone who has established expert witness experience. Our independent social workers, Lola Olufayo and Cath Thomas, have years of experience and have been providing assessments for several years.
How quickly can you provide a report?
At Expert Court Reports Ltd, we understand the pressures of the legal profession. We recognise that litigation is subject to defined timescales and for this reason, we will be as flexible and accommodating as we are able to be. However, we pride ourselves on not promising work that cannot be reliably delivered within a given timescale. The quality of the evidence which is provided by our experts is subject to review and scrutiny. All expert reports are subject to a detailed and robust proofreading process to ensure that our expert evidence is accurate and expertly formatted.