Have you received a letter from Social Services?
Are Social Services threatening to take away your child/children?
Have you received a Care Order or Supervision Order?
National Legal Service can offer you expert, empathetic legal advice.
Kirsty Richards is the Head of our Family Department and a Director at National Legal Service Solicitors. She conducts a full range of family law cases with a specialist interest in all children law (private law disputes and public law cases). She is a member of Resolution and the Association of Lawyers for Children. Kirsty is also an accredited member of the Law Society’s Children Panel and specialises in public children law proceedings, representing children’s guardians, parents, special guardians and interveners.
If concerns have been raised about the welfare of a child, the local authority (social services) can decide to issue care proceedings. Regardless of whether these concerns are justified or not, it can prove to be a very stressful and worrying time for parents.
The local authority can also apply for a ‘care order’ meaning the council will be granted parental responsibility for your children and will get to decide on where your child or children can live.
A ‘placement order’ is applied for if there is belief the child should be adopted. This then gives the council permission to place the child with suitable adopters.
It is important to remember that care proceedings are issued in the best interests of the child/ren of the family, with the same priorty to ensure the happiness, health and wellbeing of the child and protecting them from any harm/risk of harm.
The Court must apply the Children Act 1989 before making any Order relating to application for care and supervision for a child. Those involved in the case will include the child’s Guardian (appointed by court via CAFCASS), the child’s solicitor, the family’s social worker; the parent’s and any other adult that has parental responsibility for the child.
A Care Order gives parental responsibility to the local authority allowing them to make decisions. Although children can remain at home, in some cases children may be placed into a foster family or they can also go into the care of other family members. This does not necessarily mean that the parent doesn’t have Parental Responsibility, but the parent’s wishes can be overridden if the Local Authority believes it is in the best interests of the child.
This allows the child to stay with the parent(s), however, enables the local authority to be involved with the decision making of the child. It is designed for the local authority to befriend and assist the family and can last for up to a year unless an extension is requested.
A Special Guardianship Order means shared parental responsibility between the parent and appointing guardian which means decisions are made for the child together. This is often given when the child is living with extended family/close friends that have been positively assessed.
If the local authority (social services) believes a child is at risk or is suffering immediate harm, they can apply to the court for an Emergency Protection Order (EPO). This is an order that lasts up to 8 days and will usually mean a child will be removed from their usual home or is authorised to stay where they are (i.e. if they are in the Hospital or with the care of an approved family member/friend)
Situations regarding a child’s wellbeing are taken very seriously, and as such care proceedings can be a hugely complex matter. As well as many different orders that can be granted such as supervision orders, care orders, special guardianship orders and family assistance orders – there are many complicated terms used in these cases such as ‘settlement conference’ and ‘contested removal’. It is enough to overwhelm the most composed of parents.
National Legal Service advice is always delivered with your best interests as our primary concern. We draw upon our extensive experience in this challenging field to offer you trusted council and achieve the best possible outcome for your personal circumstances.
If concerns have been raised about the welfare of your child, it’s important to ensure that your story is heard so that the courts can make the best decision for your family. Fortunately, expert legal advice and support is available from solicitors with experience in child protection issues through National Legal Service.