What are Care Proceedings?
If the social services department of a Local Authority, such as Nottinghamshire County Council, Leicester City Council or Derbyshire County Council, is concerned about the welfare or safety of a child they can issue what are known as Care Proceedings.
When Care Proceedings are initiated, the Local Authority can apply for a Care Order, Interim Care Order or Supervision Order in respect of the child.
What is a Care Order?
As mentioned above, a Care Order is an order applied for by a Local Authority, once Care Proceedings have been initiated. If the Order is granted, its means that the Local Authority obtain “parental responsibility” and be able to determine issues, such as where the child lives.
Similarly, an Interim Care Order provides the Local Authority with parental responsibility for a child. However, it differs from a Care Order in that it only lasts for up to eight weeks, although it can be renewed every four weeks after that.
With Supervision Orders, these differ from both Care Orders and Interim Care Orders, in that the Local Authority doesn’t obtain parental responsibility for the child and means that the child cannot be removed from the care of those who have parental responsibility for him or her. A Supervision Order permits the Local Authority to monitor the child whilst they are in the care of those with parental responsibility for them and works with the family to provide them with the required support. This would hopefully mean that the child remains with those who have parental responsibility and the Local Authority would not feel the need to apply for a Care or Interim Care Order.
With both Care and Interim Care Orders, whilst the Local Authority obtains overall parental responsibility of the child, it doesn’t necessarily mean those with parental responsibility lose their own rights in relation to the child. It just means that the Local Authority has the final say on decisions in relation to the child and what is in their best interests.
On what grounds can a Care Order be granted?
- The child is at risk of suffering harm, either now or in the future;
- The risk is as a result of the care being provided to the child by someone with parental responsibility; or
- The child is at risk of harm as those with parental responsibility are unable to control them.
Family members of the child are able to challenge the application from the Local Authority.
If the Courts approve of the Order, the Local Authority may also apply for a Placement Order, if they think the long-term interests are best met by adoption.