Are independent social workers allowed to carry out assessments in Poland?

Yes, they and local authority social workers can and do complete assessments in Poland for the use by British courts in care proceedings. In February 2016 my colleague and I have attended a meeting with the Polish Central Authority professionals and other stakeholders, where we sought to urgently address the issue of conflicting advice on the matter. Increasingly, we have been hearing from social workers and solicitors that ISW assessments in Poland are either illegal or otherwise detrimental to the outcome of the case. The meeting at the Ministry of Justice in Warsaw was long and constructive. It ended with a confirmation by the Polish CA that English-based social workers can indeed assess Polish families in Poland without obstruction. What is more, having listened and taken in our feedback, the Polish participants of that meeting agreed that for a great number of reasons, at present Poland is unable to deliver expert SGO or Parenting Assessments which would be deemed as fit for purpose in the English courts. So, my colleague and I have been invited to collaborate with the Polish CA on improving procedures and sharing information pertaining to ISWs undertaking work in Poland.

Paradoxically, representatives of the Polish consulates in England still attend court to insist only Polish social workers in Poland are allowed to do the work. This is because consulate staff get their directions from the Ministry of Foreign affairs and not the Ministry of Justice. It appears that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are politically pressured to tow the line of ‘Nothing that is not Polish will quite do’, without much understanding or appreciation of the complexities and requirements associated with expert court assessments in English and Welsh care proceedings. Advice against ISWs coming to Poland to assess people is not based on any Polish legislation- just ask a consulate representative in Court to provide you with evidence of where in the Polish law such legal advice is based- they won’t be able to do that!  Once could spend a whole day talking about this but I won’t. The bottom line is that, as has been the case since Poland joined the EU in 2004, English- based social work professionals CAN and DO complete assessments in Poland- with the blessing of the Polish Central Authority, subject to Brussels II bis Regulations.