Only the actions of parents and professionals can keep children safe – a paper agreement offers no guarantees. But if experts think that children are safer than they are because there is an agreement, they can take fewer steps to reduce the risks. Written agreements should not be used, they do not keep children safe. Planning must be at the centre of concerns, developed from the slowness of thought, partnership and analysis….. WHAT`S GOING TO MAKE THE DIFFERENCE? As a sector, it is really important to get a better understanding and clarity about how best to use written agreements. But it is even more important to ensure that, in our zeal to support and protect those who suffer domestic abuse, we are no longer victims of them. How can a “deal” bring a mother back to a corner? Such a contract is only a proposition and the desperation that must be respected is generally, in my experience (as a social worker, child welfare officer, practice teacher and domestic violence counsellor), that parents, especially mothers, say they will comply. If there is genuine cooperation and the elimination of threats from administrative agreements can be an excellent way to mark progress for workers and families. It is essential that parents do not sign a written agreement, unless they understand all parts of the agreement and must always seek legal advice before signing a written agreement. The review added: “Good practice would indicate that written agreements are a statement of concern and advice from the local authority to one of the parents, that they are not a contract and therefore are not required for parents to sign their agreement.” It is therefore important that parents do not sign a written agreement if they do not think they can stick to what is written. Parents should also be aware that they should also say so if they feel that something in the written agreement is unfair. Even if the parents are willing to do what is requested, but they want help, then they should ask that this help be identified and inserted into the written agreement. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, it is worth paying attention to what you need to do regarding communicating and contacting your ex-partner/reporting abuse of a current partner.
Are you being asked to sign up for something that is not realistic or safe to expect? Unfortunately, some waiting contracts give responsible responsibility to an abused relative, who is difficult to keep to. If you are concerned, ask to speak privately with the social worker or discuss the proposed wording with your IDVA or YOUR ISVA (see here to learn more about the subject). It is obvious that any victim in a situation where forced control poses a risk would have great difficulty in complying with such an agreement. One or more of them will usually be absent when the document is agreed (often all 3). Many, but not all, of these documents will say, “This agreement is not legally binding” – a clear indication that the local authority has no intention of establishing legal relations. And there is rarely a real exchange of values – a parent is asked to sign by promising to do x or not – even though a parent might hope that the continuation of the agreement will result in the local authority feeling that it can end its involvement, it is very unlikely that there will be a clear promise that if parents do x, y and z, they will be able to get their children back (for example).