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Care proceedings & child protection

Care orders for children

If a social worker at your local authority has serious concerns about a child in your care, then they may apply to the court for an order to change the arrangements for the child.

The concerns must be of a serious nature, for example if they believe your child has been harmed and it was not an accident or because the social worker believes there is a serious risk of harm in the future.

The Court has to put the welfare of a child first, and it has the power to approve the removal of a child from his or her parents or carers. The police also have powers to remove a child to suitable accommodation for up to 72 hours if they believe the child would be at risk of significant harm.

If the court makes a care order, it effectively gives the local authority a legal responsibility for the child alongside the parents who have parental responsibility, and this could last until the child is 18 years old if it is not ended by the court before then.

The local authority will have the power to decide where the child can live, who they can live with, and they will also have a say in other important decisions.

If the concerns of the social worker can be addressed, such that they believe the child is well cared for and safe, then the child is likely to return to the care of their previous care giver.

As part of the proceedings the local authority has a duty to assess family members or close friends who are put forward as alternative carers for the child(ren) and long term placement outside of the family is always to be the last resort.

Who we help

We support parents, grandparents and other relatives involved in care proceedings.

We also act separately for children who are old enough and have sufficient understanding to instruct a solicitor themselves. Generally, this applies to teenagers only, but sometimes children as young as 10 can be found to be of sufficient understanding.

How we help

If your social worker has expressed serious concerns and has mentioned applying to the Court, then you should receive fair warning via a letter giving you a formal opportunity to discuss the concerns with the social worker and how they may be addressed.

Our experienced solicitors will explain your rights, guide you through the process and represent you at court, exploring options for less restrictive orders where possible.

We can help you to apply for a care order to be discharged if circumstances have changed.

We also support young people within the care system in regard to housing and support from your local authority

Funding for legal advice or representation

Legal Aid funding is available for parents and others with parental responsibility for the child if their local authority has applied for a care order relating to a child in the family.

Contact our family law team

Contact us right away if you are affected by any of these issues, for compassionate, specialist advice.

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