Care proceedings and child care orders

broken familySometimes, Social Services (The Local Authority) may need to intervene in the way children are being looked after, particular if it is thought there may be concerns about the safety or welfare of the children.

The Local Authority will need to apply for Orders from the Court to be allowed to do this and it is to be emphasised that a parent or other family member can challenge any application so made. It is also to be emphasised that if Social Services or the Local Authority wish to take children away from their parents, they require a formal Care Order and must apply for this through the Family Court. However, if they feel that a child is in danger, then an emergency application for an Order can be made to place the children into the interim care of the Local Authority until such time as matters can be appropriately progressed.

Threat of care proceedings and your Child. Will they be removed Permanently from their Home and Your Care?

If your child has been taken into care or Social Services are even threatening to take them into care, then clearly you must seek legal advice from ourselves immediately. Indeed if you have any concern that care proceedings will be brought against your child in Cardiff, then contact us as a matter of extreme urgency. 

The Ultimate outcome of Children's Care Proceedings could be that your baby, child or children will be removed permanently from your care and a worst case scenario that you would never see them again, after the conclusion of Court Proceedings, so it is desperately important that you arrange to see us as quickly as you can.

 

Before going to Court, your child’s Social Worker has to send papers to the Court explaining why they are worried about your child. You must receive a copy of these papers. It is though essential that you contact us at that stage.

At an initial hearing, the Family Court will make a number of decisions including whether an Interim Care or Supervision Order should be made, where your child should live until the final hearing and indeed, what level of contact you should have in the interim.

List of children’s matters where we can assist:

  • Care Order
  • Interim Care Order
  • Supervision Order
  • Interim Supervision Order
  • Emergency Protection Orders
  • Police Protection Orders
  • Special Guardianship Order
  • Adoption Orders
  • Placement Order
  • Pre Proceedings Meetings
  • Child Protection Case Conferences
  • Child Protection review Conferences
  • Defending allegations of injury, neglect or abuse
  • Child Arrangement Orders
  • Domestic abuse/ violence
  • Prohibited Steps Orders
  • Specific Issue Orders

Can I get Legal Aid/Public Funding?

If you are the parent of the child then you will automatically qualify for funding if proceedings are issued. Such funding is automatic irrespective of your financial position. It is therefore vitally important once again that you immediately contact us in order to find out what you are able to immediate achieve.

If you are a grandparent or other family member of the child, then it may still be possible to obtain some form of funding particularly if the child is living with you. In the first instance, if the Local Authority are seeking removal of a child from a parent, they are obliged to consider whether there are any family members or relatives who are willing and able to look after the child, as an alternative of placing the child in foster care (or ultimately for adoption). If you are a family member wishing to put yourself to care for a child in this situation, you may not be entitled to Legal Aid. We can, however, help you navigate the Court Proceedings and deal with the Local Authority to ensure that you are considered as a carer for the child in this process. If appropriate, we can also consider whether you can apply to be made a party to the proceedings and indeed, seek the care of the child on either an interim or indeed, permanent basis.

We understand how stressful and emotional these particulars family proceedings can be, which is why we pride ourselves on offering a friendly, sympathetic, dedicated but at all times, professional approach. We also have a strong reputation for fighting for our clients and achieving positive and successful outcomes. We will guide you through this difficult time with realistic and focused advice.

Care proceedings further explained

As explained above, Care Proceedings are the legal process by which Social Services or the Local Authority ask the Court whether or not a young person or child should go into care. This is done by application to the Court for a “Care Order” whereby the Local Authority ask the Court to have your child taken into care.

  • This would mean they would live with someone else. This can be for just a few weeks or until the Court makes a final decision which could be many months.
  • This gives the Local Authority “parental responsibility” for your child – this means that the Local Authority gets the legal right to make decisions about your child’s life, e.g. where they get medical treatment or where they go to school.

Procedures followed in care proceedings

When the Local Authority receive a report regarding the welfare of your child or children, the Local Authority must decide, within one working day, whether or not they need to check up on you. If the answer is yes, a Social Worker is told to make an initial assessment. This assessment must occur within 10 working days of the original referral.

This might happen casually with the Social Worker “popping in for a chat” or it might be by appointment in your home.

No matter how “casual” the assessment, from that point on, you are involved in a Child Protection Investigation. The meeting is written up on a record that goes permanently on the file about you and your child or children.

The result of this meeting with you can be “no action taken” but you are unlikely to get an apology or thanks – and you need to check that the file that stays with Social Services, is accurate as it can affect your child’s future.

Matters on the other hand may go further and indeed, Social Services may decide to hold a Section 47 Enquiry (named from Section 47 of the Children’s Act 1989) carrying out a Core Assessment.

If the Core Assessment deems that the child is at continued risk from significant harm, a Child Protection Conference will be convened.

Depending upon the findings of a Child Protection Conference, it may be decided that Care Proceedings are necessary to keep the child safe.

Here, it is decided whether or not the child should be placed on the Child Protection Register and a Care Plan is outlined.

The Court is also responsible for awarding Emergency Protection Orders whether a child may be removed from his or her home for up to 8 days.

The Court may issue a Care Order giving the Local Authority parental responsibility for the child, either fully or in part, or shared with parents and a Care Plan for the child will be drawn and implemented. Depending on the circumstances, the child may continue to live at home or maybe placed in the care of other members of the family, foster care, or a children’s home. In circumstances where it is deemed that it would be unsafe for the child to return to live with her or her natural parents, the Local Authority may seek to have the child adopted, issuing an Adoption Order which transfers parental responsibility to the adoptive parents.

We would suggest that given the clear complexity of these matters, which to some degree is only hinted at in the information given above, that it is imperative that you contact us immediately if you have any direct communication or indeed letters from the Local Authority, indicating they intend to take formal action. Contact us as a matter of extreme urgency either telephone us or indeed, leave your enquiry on our site.

Finally, given the complexity of these matters and indeed, given the use of terminology and terms which you will not be familiar with and indeed, the information you may obtain from the Local Authority or Social Workers that you do not understand, we enclose a glossary of the most commonly used terms with a description of what these mean
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