A Local Authority (i.e. a social services or children's services) can, if there are concerns with regard to the welfare of any child up to the age of 17, start care proceedings under the Children Act 1989.
The Local Authority can make an application for what is known as a Care Order. This is an Order which gives the Local Authority Parental Responsibility, or a Supervision Order which enables the Local Authority to advise, assist or befriend the child or children where there are concerns.
If the Local Authority obtain a Care Order in respect of a child then this can be on an interim basis or a Final Order. If either an Interim Care Order or Full Care Order is granted, the Local Authority share Parental Responsibility with all others who have this for the child, subject to the Order. Under the Parental Responsibility they have the power to determine all aspects of the child’s life, except for certain issues; changing the child’s name, allowing the child to leave the jurisdiction of England and Wales and placement of the child for adoption without the consent of the parents. As such, the Parental Responsibility held by the Local Authority under a Care Order overrides the Parental Responsibility which any parent would have. Infomation regarding the effect of Parental Responsibility is given in a separate area of this website.
The Order can involve the child living at home, being placed with other members of the extended family, or living in foster care or in a children's home. Care Orders last until the child is 18 or until the court makes a further order.
If a Local Authority obtains a Supervision Order for a child then they have a duty to advise, assist and befriend a family and are entitled to visit the child and to know whether or not the child moves address. They are not entitled to make decisions removing the child from the care of the parents, or any other person with whom the child is living with the parents consent, without making an Application to the Court.
How long will the proceedings take?
As the Court needs to have extensive information in order to decide whether or not a Care Order or a Supervision Order should be made, cases must be completed within 26 weeks. In very limited circumstances this can be extended.
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