CHILD CARE PROCEEDINGS
A Care Order is an Order placing the child in the care of the local authority. It gives the local authority parental responsibility and allows it to make certain decisions about your child. A Care Order is made where the Court is satisfied that:
1. The child concerned is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm; and
2. The harm or likelihood of harm is attributable to either:
(i) the care given to the child (or likely to be given to them if the order were not made) not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give them; or
(ii) the child being beyond parental control.
These conditions are what are known as the ‘threshold criteria’ because they are the minimum circumstances which must be found before the Court can justify making a Care Order.
In making any decisions about the child, including whether to make a Care Order, the welfare of the child is the court's paramount consideration. In reaching its decision, the court must consider:
a) the wishes and feelings of the child;
b) the child's physical, emotional and educational needs;
c) the likely effect on the child of any change in circumstances;
d) the child's age, sex, background and any other of his or her characteristics which the court considers relevant;
e) any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
f) how capable each parent (and any other relevant person) is of meeting the child's needs and
g) the range of powers available to the court.
The court will only make an order where it is better for the child than making no order.
Once a Care Order is made, the Local Authority will take the child into its care and provide accommodation and maintain the child for the duration of the order. The Care Order gives the local authority parental responsibility jointly with any other holders.
Parental responsibility means all the rights, duties, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child. In other words, this means the ability to make important decisions in relation to a child, for example, decisions about where a child is to live, whether a child can receive medical treatment, what religion they follow and which school they attend.
When a Care Order is in force, regular contact with parents and other relatives is important. The Local Authority if possible should place the child with a member of the family in order to facilitate this contact and rehabilitate the child back with hos or her family. An assessment of all family members putting themselves forward as carers for your child will therefore be undertaken by the Local Authority.
The Local Authority is under a duty to allow you to have reasonable contact with your child.
Contact can be described as the time that a parent who does not live full time with their child spends with that child. Contact can be direct i.e. face-to-face contact or it may be indirect contact, such as telephone calls, emails, letters etc. Direct contact can be both supervised or unsupervised. Contact may take place for just a few hours at a time, or may be 'staying' contact where the child stays overnight with the parent having contact.
Please download our guide to Care Proceedings HERE for more information and guidance.