What are Care Proceedings?
If the Local Authority has concerns about the safety of your child they can apply to the Court for a ‘Care Order’ or ‘Supervision Order’.
A Care Order places the child in the care of the Local Authority. This means that the Local Authority will acquire parental responsibility for the child and are able to determine where the child should live. An Interim Care Order is the Order that would be made at the first hearing after Care Proceedings have been issued. The Court can only grant such an Order if they believe that a child may be at risk of serious harm. The initial Order will last for 8 weeks and is renewed every 4 weeks thereafter.
Where the Local Authority applies for a Care Order they must prepare a Care Plan. The Care Plan must set out the interim arrangements including what contact shall take place between the child and their parents/family. The Court will then decide on how often, when and where contact should happen.
During proceedings professionals including Social Workers will work with you to try to understand why your child is at risk and what needs to be done to keep them safe. They may also speak with family members and friends to see whether they can provide a safe place for your child to live if they are unable to return home.
A Children’s Guardian from CAFCASS will represent the rights and interests of the child. They provide the Court with reports outlining their recommendations independent to the Local Authority and the parents.
It can take up to 26 weeks for the Court to make final decisions in a case and in some complex cases even longer.
What should I do?
If you receive notification that the Local Authority is going to issue Care Proceedings you should seek legal advice without delay. Please call our emergency 24 hour number if you require urgent advice and assistance or have a hearing within 48 hours. We are happy to assist you in every aspect of your case.
What will it Cost?
If you are a parent or a person with parental responsibility you will be entitled to Legal Aid and you will not have to pay for legal advice or for a Solicitor to attend at Court Hearings with you, regardless of your financial situation.
We have represented parent(s) and extended family members in Care Proceedings across South Yorkshire including Doncaster, Barnsley, Sheffield and Rotherham. We are happy to advise, assist and support you in all Social Services matters.