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 genuine exchange of values – a parent is invited to sign by promising to do x or not – although a parent can hope that the continuation of the agreement will result in the local authority feeling that it can end its participation, it is very unlikely that there is a clear promise : if parents do x, y and z, they can have their children back (for example). Every local authority has a constant duty to protect children on their territory, and there are times when, even if the parents have done everything they do and have „checked all the boxes“, another risk has arisen, which means that the local authority has yet to take action (imagine that a parent agrees to stop using drugs and go to rehab). and they do — but in the meantime, they are involved in a relationship with someone they know is a sex offender and puts their children at risk — social services may have to do something or stay involved because of the new risk. It would be contrary to public policy for social services to attach themselves to a contract that could mean that they could not fulfil their duty to protect a child. The idea of „partnership“ is a chic way of talking about trust and working as a team, and it aims to give the idea that social services are there to help families, even if they don`t always feel that way for a parent who is under the microscope. Well-developed waiting contracts will explain not only what is expected of parents, but also what parents can expect from social workers, including practical support. However, the main purpose of these agreements is more often to protect children through parental agreements on their own behaviour.
Despite the cases I have mentioned, there are circumstances in which written agreements can be effective. We know, for example, that they can work well if family members participate fully and.B equally in their development, for example through family group conferences.