The Local Authority (LA) will always look to keep the child with their parents unless there are compelling reasons why this should not be. However, if there are any concerns for a child or young person’s health, welfare or safety, then the LA may decide to begin care proceedings through the courts to safeguard the child.
Mark Hawkins, family lawyer and Partner at Tallents Solicitors in Mansfield offers an explanation for parents and carers of the different orders that the LA might apply for.
There is a process that is usually followed by the LA prior to beginning court proceedings. This will include inviting parents or carers to a pre-proceeding meeting to allow concerns for the child to be discussed and to identify the support that may be needed to avoid the Child being subject to Court proceedings.
If after the pre-proceeding meetings there continues to be sufficient concerns about the wellbeing of the child, the LA can apply to the court for one of a number of Orders.
In most child care proceedings, the following Orders are the most likely to be sought:
Emergency Protection Order (EPO) – an EPO will give the LA parental responsibility, including the right to take your child into foster care and keep them from returning to your care. The EPO lasts for eight days, but the LA can ask for it to be extended for another seven days, by their nature these orders are sought in urgent situations and allow the LA to protect the child for a limited period whilst further steps are considered.
Interim Care Order (ICO) – an ICO gives the LA joint parental responsibility with yourself and places the child in the care of the LA on an interim basis while the family is assessed. This order can last for the duration of the court proceedings but can be challenged if there has been a change in circumstances since the order was made. A full Care Order can be made at the end of proceedings and gives the LA parental responsibility until the child reaches eighteen unless the order is subsequently discharged.
Supervision Order – this order means your child stays with you but allows social services to supervise your child to ensure that any risk of harm is managed. It does not place your child in care. This order lasts for up to one year unless an extension is asked for.
The local authority has to prove that there are enough good reasons to be duly concerned about the child’s imminent safety for the court to make an order removing the child from it’s parent/carer’s care at the outset of proceedings. If they cannot, then the court will not make an order.
Our specialists in Family and Child Care law at Mansfield and Newark are here to help parents and carers through this stressful process. When you contact us, we will listen to the specifics of your case and work with you to find the best solution for your children and you to the problems you are facing. We also offer a free, drop-in family law clinic at our Southwell office from 5-7pm on Tuesdays for anyone with concerns they wish to discuss.