Applicant – The Applicant in care proceedings is the Local Authority.
Respondent – The parents are the Respondents.
Guardian – A Children’s Guardian represents the child during the care proceedings.
Care proceedings are court proceedings where the Local Authority has applied for a ‘care order’ for a child which they have concerns about.
A care order gives the Local Authority ‘parental responsibility’ for the child in question. This means that the Local Authority can make decisions that a parent would usually make for a child such as where they will live. The care order therefore enables the Local Authority to take child into foster care.
Where the Local Authority is concerned about a child, they can also apply for a Supervision Order. This places a child under the supervision of the Local Authority. A Supervision Order imposes a duty on the local authority to ‘advise, assist and befriend’ the child. However, the Local Authority will not acquire Parental Responsibility for the child.
In some cases, the Local Authority can also apply for a ‘placement order’ within the care proceedings for a child to be placed for adoption.
The Local Authority will make an application for a care order or supervision order if they consider that a child is at risk of suffering significant harm or is actually suffering significant harm. This could be for a number of reasons such as a child being neglected or abused. However, it is the Judge’s decision as to whether to grant the order.
If the Local Authority is successful in making their application, interim orders are granted to the Local Authority.
During this time assessments will take place to determine whether the parent is able to care for the child and to look into the reasons why the child may be at risk and how to ensure the child’s safety. This includes parenting assessments, drug or alcohol tests, psychiatric and psychological assessments.
The Children’s Guardian will also meet with the family to gain some insight into the Local Authority’s concerns. They will report to the Court on whether the parent can care for the child and whether the child will be at risk. They will make a recommendation as to what they think should happen to the child.
Care proceeding usually conclude within 26 weeks (for a court case). However, some cases may take longer depending on the complexity of the issues.
A Care Order lasts until a child is 18 years old.
You may find our flow charts helpful as they set out a summary of the care proceedings process and assessment process.
If you have received any papers from the Local Authority regarding care proceedings or the local authority have indicated that they will be issuing proceedings, please contact us on 020 8492 2290.