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Care and supervision orders - overviewDuties
The Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989) provides for local authority social services departments to be responsible for making sure that children are safe and appropriately cared for by their parents or the person looking after them. Local authorities also have a general duty of care to promote the well being of children in their area and are responsible for investigating any child in their area where they have cause to suspect the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm.
Typically a local authority may start these investigations for any of the following reasons:
when directed to do so by the court
when the child has persistently failed to comply with an education supervision order
when it suspects that a child in its area is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm
when a child is in police protection
when a child assessment order has been made
when an emergency protection order has been made - this is an order to protect the child from harm by removal from a place or the requirement to stay in a specific place
When a local authority becomes involved with a family in which the children are at risk, the local authority will work with the family and involve relevant agencies and professionals.
Before a court application is made a child protection case conference should be held, to which parents/ carers, relevant professionals, organisations and agencies are invited, to see if the child could properly be protected without a care order being made.
The ChA 1989 created a single statutory route for taking children into care through a care or supervision order, requiring the statutory threshold to be satisfied. Once the threshold is satisfied the court considers the welfare principle.
When investigating a child a local authority may apply for a child assessment order to enable an assessment to be made. Courts may make a child assessment order during other family proceedings. Similarly if urgent proceedings are required by the circumstances an application for an emergency protection order can be made.
Once care proceedings have been started the court has options of making
a supervision order requires a child to be supervised by a social worker for up to a year. The child usually resides with parents rather than in local authority care
a residence order - stating where the child should live
a contact order - detailing who the child has contact with, with or without conditions
a (interim) care order
The effect of a care order is that parental responsibility is shared between the local authority and parents. The care plan, accompanying any application, should be a detailed operational plan.
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