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Services / Family / Care Proceedings

Care Proceedings

If there are concerns that a child is or is at risk of suffering from significant harm it is possible for a local authority to ask the court to make a Care Order or a Supervision Order to protect the child from the harm that it is or may be at risk of suffering.

If a Care Order is made it means that the local authority will share Parental Responsibility for the child with those who already have Parental Responsibility. The Order enables the local authority to say who the child should live with and can last until the child is 18 unless it is discharged at an earlier date.

If a Supervision Order is made it means that the local authority will advise, assist and befriend the child who is named by the Supervision Order. It does not give the local authority Parental Responsibility but means that the local authority will work with those who have Parental Responsibility to ensure the safety of the child. A Supervision Order will often last for up to 12 months but this period can be extended.

Before the court can make a Care Order or Supervision Order it has to be satisfied that a child was suffering significant harm or at risk of suffering from significant harm. This is called the “threshold criteria”.

Court proceedings for these orders are kept to a strict timescale and have to be resolved within 26 weeks or earlier if at all possible.

It may be necessary for those who wish to care for a child to undergo certain assessments. These could include assessments by psychologists or psychiatrists or assessments of parenting abilities.

In some cases, particularly with younger children, the local authority might ask the court for an order that a child should be adopted if it is not considered suitable for a child to be cared for within the family.

In some situations the local authority may have concerns about a child and arrange a meeting called a Letter Before Action Meeting (“PLO”) between the parents and the local authority to see if a plan can be agreed to resolve their concerns and to prevent an application for a Care Order or Supervision Order.

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