Removing a child from their family is the most extreme intervention the state can make. However, the local authority has a duty to intervene and start child care proceedings if there are concerns that a child is at risk.
In most cases, social services are involved for a short time to support the family; however, for some, they may call for a Child Protection Case Conference. This allows social services to assess whether a Care Order needs to be made or not.
If social services have contacted you or a family member, you must get legal advice urgently and do not ignore the situation. Even if you do not attend scheduled meetings or court hearings, they can make important decisions about your family’s future.
We regularly support families in this situation and contact social services on your behalf, attend any scheduled meetings and advise you regarding correspondence, reports or agreements you are asked to sign.
If social services decide to start care proceedings in the court, there will be several hearings: Case Management and Issues Resolution to see if an agreement can be reached.
If not, there will usually be a final hearing where long-term decisions are made about your child’s future, who they will live with and what court order is best.
What are the potential outcomes?
There are several final orders that the court can make:
Care Order: your child stays in care until they are 18 unless the order is ended before then.
Supervision Order: your child will live with you, but Children’s Services will supervise the family.
Child Arrangements Order: your child will live with another person, such as a family member or friend, for as long as the order exists. The order can also set out contact arrangements for your child.
Placement Order: Children’s Services have permission to place your child for adoption even if you do not agree.
Special Guardianship Order: your child will live with another person, such as a family member, but they will also have parental responsibility for your child, giving them all the rights, powers, duties and responsibilities that a parent has.