National Legal Service – Supporting parents through public children law proceedings
In cases where concerns have been raised about the welfare or safety of a child, the local authority may apply to the family court for an order. The type of order can range from emergency protection orders (EPO’s); interim care orders (ICO’s) and interim supervision orders (ISO’s). There is a widespread belief that child protection proceedings are designed to remove a child from the home, but this is not true.
Instead, public children law orders are made when there is reasonably ground to belief a child (sibling group) is suffering significant harm or is at risk of suffering significant harm and that harm is attributable to the care being provided to the child (sibling group) by the parent/ main carer. The court and parties in the case will want to learn more about the child’s situation, and in many cases will result in a series of assessments being carried out and independent experts instruct to report in the case – all parties; parents, guardians, carers, and social services -have an opportunity to share their insight, and respond evidence to the court. This helps the courts decision making be proportionate and focused on the best interests of the child.
Proceedings may be issued where there are concerns about:
● Sexual abuse
● Emotional abuse
● Physical abuse
● Physical injury
● Domestic violence
These issues may be raised as a result of a change in circumstance or living arrangements, such as an adult with a history of abuse moving into the home.
Child protection conferences
Child protection conferences (CPC’s) are convened outside of the formal court and PLO process. They are designed to provide an opportunity and platform for those who care for the child to discuss any concerns or issues that they may have to enable the most suitable decision to be made. A possible outcome of a child protection order is that a child protection plan is put in place or in serious instances, a case may go to legal planning to determine if the PLO process should commence and / or whether there is threshold to issue court proceedings. It is important that you engage fully in CPC’s and provide as much input is encouraged as possible. People that may be present include:
● Older siblings
● Family members
● Social services
● The child themselves, if they are old enough to understand the situation
However, it is not necessary for all to attend. In fact, parents, and carers do not have to attend a CPC if they do not wish to, or if they are unable to. However it may perceived as an unwillingness to engage, which may be a factor that contributes to any assessments of threshold. It is therefore important to attend all meetings and to seek early advice from our specialist care solicitors at National Legal Service by phoning 020 3601 5051.
Legal support for parents, guardians, and carers
It is the view of the family courts that the needs of the child must be prioritised during care proceedings, and at National Legal Service we agree it is vital that the best interests of the child are taken into consideration. However, we also believe that it is important for parents, and carers to be represented and heard in the proceedings.
Care proceedings can create strong feelings of worry, anxiety, and stress, and parents/carers can often feel overwhelmed and confused during meetings/hearings. This can prevent them from communicating their feelings clearly and take in all the information. At National Legal Service, our aim is to provide expert legal advice for parents and carers, ensuring that they’re being properly represented, and that they can fully understand all documentation relating to the child protection concerns.
The aim of public children law orders is to protect the child (sibling group), and in some cases this can mean that a child is removed from the home and taken into foster care. Before that happens, suitable friends and family members will be assessed to see if they can provide a temporary placement for the child (sibling group).
National Legal Service – Supporting you and your family when you need us
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 from solicitors with experience in child protection issues through National Legal Service. Call the National Legal Service team on 0203 601 5051, or you can request a consultation online.