Child Care Proceedings Q&A
The Local Authority are concerned about my children. What happens next?
If the Local Authority believes there is a risk to your children they may make an urgent application to the court. At this stage you will be provided with details of their plans and you will be advised to see a solicitor. The Local Authority may ask the court for an ‘interim care order’ which will allow them to be able to make decisions for the child including where they are to live. If you are at this stage it is important that you contact us to discuss.
If the Local Authority are concerned about your child/children but do not regard the matter as an emergency you will be expected to work with them to address these concerns. If you have a letter which states that the Local Authority may issue court proceedings if you do not address their concerns you must seek legal advice immediately. This stage is referred to as the Pre-proceedings stage and if the Local Authority is still not satisfied it has the option to make an application to the court. If you are not sure about the type of Local Authority involvement with you contact us or seek legal advice immediately.
It is important to be aware that the Local Authority will only ask the court to take a child into care as a last resort and much will depend on the particular facts and circumstances surrounding your case and your engagement with them.
Could my family look after my child?
It is the responsibility of the Local Authority to consider other family members or relatives as potential carers where they are seeking the removal of a child from a parent provided they are willing to be put themselves forward. This is a preferable option to placing a child in foster care or adoption. If you are a family member in this position you will not automatically be entitled to legal aid and it is important to seek legal advice. We can advise you as to how to proceed and become a party in the proceedings to care for the child. The types of orders that the courts may grant in favour of family members if they are successfully assessed include a ‘Child arrangements order – Residence Order’ or ‘Special Guardianship Order’. These orders provide parental responsibility for decisions to be made for the child.
Can I discharge a final care order?
If a Care Order is made and your child does not live with you, you can in certain circumstances apply to discharge or end the Care Order. It is advisable to seek legal advice as it will very much depend of the facts of the case and any significant changes.
What is an EPO?
An Emergency Protection Order (EPO) is an order made where a child is immediately removed to prevent a danger to that child and this may involve the police. It will last for eight days but it can be extended by the court.
What is a PLO?
A PLO is a meeting which the Local Authority (LA) will invite a parent to if they believe they have sufficient concerns about a child in their care. It is often seen as a ‘last chance’ to prevent the LA escalating the matter to court.