If concerns arise about the welfare of a child, the Local Authority may begin care proceedings. This can result in the court making an interim care order. This order is a temporary measure that gives the local authority a share of parental responsibility and can allow the local authority to take a child into care for an initial maximum period of eight weeks, but it can then be extended. This type of order is used to secure the safety of the child whilst investigations and evidence gathering is carried out, to inform the alleged risks and for the court to gather the best evidence available in order to ultimately make the correct long-term decision.
What’s the difference between an interim care order and a care order?
A care order is a legal order made by a court that places a child under the care of a local authority. The order is only made when there are concerns that the child is suffering, is likely to suffer significant harm, or that the parents cannot control the child. This means that the child will only be removed from their parent’s or guardians’ care if their health and wellbeing are in question. Parents have the right to speak to a solicitor and argue against this decision. If the care order is granted, it gives the local authority parental responsibility for the child. It can then make decisions about the child’s care, such as where they should live and go to school.
An interim care order, on the other hand, is a temporary order that is made when there are concerns that a child is at risk of significant harm, but the court needs more time to make a decision about a care order. The interim care order allows the local authority to take the child into care for a specified period, usually up to eight weeks, while the court gathers more information about the case. During this period, the local authority will consult with the child’s parents about any decisions concerning their child but will have the final say. The local authority has parental responsibility for as long as the interim care order is in place.
The Court can direct for an assessment of the child under s38(6). Under an interim care order, the home for the child can still be any type of placement. For example, the child could remain at home with such an order. Much more common, however, is placement into foster care, a family member or a placement together with a parent.
How long is an interim care order?
As mentioned above, an interim care order is a temporary measure that lasts for a specified period. The order can be made for up to eight weeks, but it can be extended with the court’s permission. It will remain in place usually until the court can be satisfied that the alleged risks have been resolved or the care offered by those with parental responsibility is safe.
What happens at the end of an interim care order?
At the end of the case, the court will decide whether a care order is necessary and proportionate. If the court determines that a care order is necessary, the local authority will continue to have parental responsibility for the child, and they will make decisions about the child’s care.
If the court decides that a care order is not necessary, the child will be returned to their parents or carers, and the proceedings will conclude.
It is worth noting that if the court determines that a care order is necessary, the local authority will have ongoing involvement in the child’s life. They will be responsible for the child’s care and will make decisions about their upbringing. The child’s parents or carers will still have some involvement in the child’s life, but the local authority’s role will be significant.
An interim care order is a necessary measure in child protection cases in the UK. It allows local authorities to take a child into care temporarily while the court gathers more information and determines whether a care order is necessary for the child’s safety and well-being. It’s a vital tool in protecting vulnerable children and ensuring their safety.
If your child is involved in care proceedings, you can speak with National Legal Service family lawyers in complete confidence.