Care Order's And Looked After Child (LAC).
My advice when dealing with LAC reviews and requests.
Recording inside your own homes.
If you record inside your own property then remember this.
Place a postcard size notice on your front door somewhere that isnt obvious to the eye. Then it cannot be your fault if a professional does not notice it. Make sure you put the date on it aswell and take a timestamped photo of it then anything recorded inside your own home can be used as hard evidence these recording cannot be rejected by a Judge, the notice should read something along the lines of.
My advice when dealing with LAC reviews and making requests.
Read all judgements clearly.
A section 37 Explained .
A section 37 enquiry can be ordered by the Courts during public law proceedings but are mostly ordered by the Courts in private law proceedings.
The court may become concerned about a child's welfare during a Court case in family proceedings of private law. When ordering Section 37 Report, the court is asking the local authority to consider whether there should be further steps taken in order to protect the child. The local authority has a duty to make these enquiries under Section 37(2) of the Children's Act 1989. The professional carrying out this enquiry should report there findings to the court within an 8 week timescale.
Specifically the local authority is asked to consider whether:
• They should apply for a Care Order or a Supervision Order – if this is decided then it will usually go through the legal planning process with a Legal Gateway Planning meeting and then they will start Public Law Outline (PLO) Proceedings. Remember Care Orders or Supervision Orders can only be made in Care Proceedings.
• Provide services and assistance to the child and there family.
• Take any other action in respect of the child.
No parties involved in Court Proceedings can apply for a Section 37 direction, but parties can suggest one to be carried out to the courts. When a professional is carrying out a section 37 enquiry the child should always be visited and seen when possible and they should consult and update all the professionals who are involved.
Serious consideration needs to be given to any concerns that meet the threshold criteria and a meeting to establish if any Safeguarding Procedures or Strategy Discussion need to be implemented and put into place to protect the child.
The report must include the full assessments carried out on the family and all the findings from these assessments they must cover the key areas that the court has asked for guidance on.
This should include:
• The work covered for the assessment, e.g. who has been assessed and who they have spoken to.
• Any conclusions such as whether the child is suffering significant harm while in the care of there parents,
• Any risk of/or suffering any significant harm because of Domestic Violence or Abuse or lack of care by the parents because of this, Section 31(2).
• The reasons for any decision not to apply for an order.
If they decide to start care proceedings then get legal advice immediately if you are a victim of domestic violence then you are automatically entitled to free legal aid. If they tell you that you do not need legal representation at this time do not listen to a word of this absolute nonesence go get yourself a solicitor as soon as possible.
• They must Detail all service and professionals providing assistance to the child and there family, especially cases involving Domestic Violence or Abuse.
• They must state whether the case will be reviewed or not by the courts or the local authorities and when this will take place.
A section 7 Explained.
Under the Childrens Act 1989, section 7, when an application is made to the Courts by one or both parents under the Children's Act 1989, section 8, for any of the following...
• A Child's Arrangements Order.
• Prohibited Steps Order.
• Specific Issues Order.
• Family Assistance Order.
A section 7 is also known as a welfare report. It is requested by the Judge in private law proceedings when the courts need more information on a child's welfare to decide what course of action is best for your your child.
A section 7 report is requested when.....
• There is a case of domestic violence or abuse, the Courts will request a "safety and risk assessment" This should only be carried out by a qualified and accredited professional.
• When the social worker hasn't spoken to the local authorities legal team or no Children's Guardian has been appointed to the child because the child hasn't been made a party to the proceedings. However if the case involves Domestic Violence or abuse then the child is entitled to there own legal representation, depending on the seriousness of the case.
A Section 7 report is carried out by the families social worker if children's services are already or have been previous involved with the family in the past. If not the Court will refer the family to CAFCASS where they will be allocated a CAFCASS worker .
Families disagree usually when a couple separate and they can't agree between themselves or it might be if parents and grandparents can't agree on what's best for the child. Feelings can often run very high. This usually happens because parties can't solve the problems between themselves, even with or without the help of a mediation service or a solicitor.
Social workers are asked by a parent/relative who is considering making an application for a Section 8 Order if they will support the application. A decision to support the application can only be made if a full assessment of all the parties involved have been completed aswell as the child's wishes and feelings being noted and taken onboard.
If the Courts have ordered a Section 7 report to be carried out, the professional carrying out the section 7 report must look at the Court Order, which will have been sent to them by the Court. This will tell them what particular area the Court is asking for the report to concentrate on. The professional can comment on other areas of concern if they feel they are relevant to the case.
Importantly, they must check whether the request for the Section 7 Report requires a response to Domestic Violence or Abuse. Or comes following a Finding of Fact Hearing of Domestic Violence or Abuse. They must ensure the Judge's findings and directions are fully read.
The reason the Courts ask for a Section 7 report to be carried out is to provide the Court with more information or advice as to what (if any) Orders should be made for the best interests of the child's welfare. It is not their role to resolve disputes between parties, but they may identify and get the opportunity to help the parties to reach an agreement.
The Court's request for a section 7 report will be contained within the Court Order. This will be sent to the local authorities Legal Team who will forward this onto your Multi Agency Service Hub (MASH). MASH will then alert your allocated social worker if you have one already or they will do a new referral to children's services. If the children are already under the local authorities the report should be completed by the allocated social worker.
In Private Law proceedings the professional carrying out the section 7 report must start their report with the presumption that you are competent parrnts and the problem is that you cannot agree about certain matters, the issues about where the child lives and contact issues regarding the child. They are not there looking for grounds to test significant harm but they may be required to evaluate harm and risks to the children or their parent / carer, where there are issues of Domestic Abuse. Neither are they there looking for the Local Authority to share parental responsibility. However, the fact that the Local Authority is involved with the child would indicate that there are concerns about the child so these should be clearly stated in their report.
The Court usually sets a timescale of 12-16 weeks for the work to be completed. The deadline for submission of the report to the Court will be specified in the Court Order. It is important that the report is filed directly to the court and they stick to the timescale set out by the Judge. Where there are reasons for delay, such as repeated failed appointments by the parties involved, the court must be notified, in writing. The letter should indicate a revised timescale for completion.
They must keep all parties aware and updated of their emerging conclusions so that the report does not contain surprises. Once they have completed there report they must clearly explain and provide you with the information on how you can request a full copy of there report either through the Court or through your solicitor. There report should be filed 14 days before the Hearing.
There are a set of stages the Local Authorities must follow .....
• Public Law Outline Meeting.
• Review Panel Meeting.
Before any proceedings for Public Law Outline can begin you will be invited to attend a meeting called a Pre-Proceedings meeting.
This meeting is held for you, your social worker and any other parties who are involved in your case to sit down formally to discuss and consider what can be done to address all the concerns and issues in order to protect your child from any future possibility of harm and to see if an agreement can be met and reached without the need to go to Court.
Children Services are not like Judges they work on the balance of probability although there alligations may not be true they will see the concerns and issues as fact regardless. A Public Law Outline is a Court Order that gives Children's Services shared parental responsibility along with yourself, just in case they haven't explained this already to you. A Judge may grant this and Children Services will give you a number of steps that you will have to take. They will usually insist that you do a parenting assessment aswell as a psychological assessment, they may ask you to attend parenting classes (refer to the step by step tab get yourself signed up to the Webster Stratton parenting course also known as the early years parenting program in your area). They will also set out what the situation is with your partner aswell. They may also carry out spot checks on you at your home. If you don't comply with the rules set out at this point then they will start care proceedings. In some cases your child may initially get removed from your care and go straight in to a foster placement with a probably view to adopt your child at the end of the proceedings. They may ask you to choose between your child or your partner.
public law outline meeting.......
A Public Law Outline meeting is different from the Pre-Proceedings meeting. This is different because with the Pre-Proceedings meeting it will usually just you and your social worker who attend.
The differences are as follows......
• If you do not attend the Public Law Outline meeting or discuss the concerns over your child with your social worker then there is a very real and high risk that your social worker will decide to take your case to Court.
• Also a lawyer from the Social Care's legal team will•be at this meeting to advise your social worker.
• You are also entitled to have your own lawyer present to attend the meeting I strongly advice that you do. Go and get a solicitor from outside of your County and one that is renowned for fighting for parents not a slack one that doesn't bother and just goes along with what Children Services wants.
• Remember if you are the childs parents or you hold parental responsibility for the child then you are entitled to free legal aid to cover the costs to have free legal representation.
Ok so you should have received a called "Letter Before Proceedings" inviting you to a Public Law Outline meeting. This letter should set out exactly what your social worker's concerns are, what their worried about, what they have done in the past to try to help you and what they would like you to do in the future.
A Public Law Outline meeting better known as PLO meeting is usually a sign that, as far as the social worker is concerned, things have reached a critical stage. This is usually the last chance that parents have to work with the social worker and Children's Services before your case is taken to Family Court. Because of this, it is really important that you attend this meeting at all costs, even if you have had difficulties talking and working with your social worker in the past.
If you are at the point of a PLO meeting, there has probably been a long history of social worker's involvement with your family. Relationships between parents and social workers is never easy and can be very difficult, parents can feel under attack and victimised and quite understandably be angry or upset. I advise you to put these understandable emotions aside when you go to the PLO meeting, get a solicitor to attend your solicitor should support you and help you to stay focused and keep your mind on the issues and concerns at hand.
If you haven't been invited to A PLO meeting then this will be because your social worker feels that there is an immediate great risk of harm to your child, or that your case is urgent and needs to be done as an emergency case, In these cases they may not hold a PLO meeting. In this situation your case will go straight to Court and your social worker will apply for an Interim Care Order better known is an ICO, an Interim Supervision Order better known as an ISO, or perhaps an Emergency Protection Order better known as an EPO.
This should only be done if your child is actually suffering, or is likely to suffer real significant harm. If you have been told that Children Service's are going straight to Court about the concerns over your children, you should get legal advice immediately. If you are the parents (or person with parental responsibility) you will still be entitled to legal aid, regardless of your financial position.
Review Panel Meeting ....
The Review Panel must decide if your case has met something called the threshold criteria of significant harm to be able to proceed and to take your case to Family Court in order to be granted a care order.
Public Law Outline Explained.
Public Law Outline Proceedings .......
Public Law Outline or plo is a series of court hearings where a judge will decide after all the evidence and assessments have been collected whether or not your child will remain in the care of the Local authorities or to remain in the care of the parents.
The good thing is the local authorities plan's for your children are not automatically accepted by the Judge.
PLO proceedings is when the Local Authorities makes an application to the Court because there are concerns over your children, or children within a family are at significant risk of harm and the Local Authority is going to Court to seek shared Parental Responsibility.
PLO proceedings can last no more than 26 weeks in total from start to finish the Judge can grant an extra 8 weeks but only in extreme situations and cases.
There is a legal structure which a Local Authorities must follow when they are considering removing a child from there parent's. This is the point at which everything else they’ve tried has failed. What the Local Authorities do is build up evidence against you.
Usually because the parent's won’t work with the Local Authorities. Sometimes the issues and concerns are much more complex like when there are difficulties getting parents to engage and to do everything that is needed to be done to address the concerns and issues.
PLO proceedings are set out into stages.
• Stage 1- Issue and Allocation
• Stage 2- Case Management Hearing
• Stage 3- Issues Resolution Hearing
• Stage 4- If matters are not concluded at the Issues Resolution Hearing, then the Court will list a Final Hearing to resolve any outstanding issues in the case.
Although the Public Law Outline is set out in a set of stages, it is also flexible by the judge at any point of stages of the proceedings. Steps, which the court would ordinarily take at various stages may be altered if the circumstances of the case changes.
The flexible powers of the court include the ability for the judge to cancel or repeat a hearing twice, this is down to the discretion of the judge.
The Court’s will follow this step-by-step procedure in care proceedings to ensure that the application is dealt with effectively and expeditiously.
• Before the court can remove your children a threshold level of harm must be proved.
• It will depend on the progress of your case.
• What the best interests of your children are.
• If there is an alternative dispute resolution procedure can bemet.
• Agreement in relation to part of the case.
• For a contract of expectations to be drawn up.
• Monitoring directions.
• Directing advocates.
• To plan a step agreement and justify.
• The impact of any decisions to the children concerned.
• Parties to co-parent amicably together.
• Parents to co-operate with the local authorities.
• Parents willingness to accept change.
• Identifying facts and issues and to address them with a plan of action.
A plo requires procedural fairness by the Local authorities by ensuring that all parties are on an equal balance and treated equally on an equal footing. The court should encourage all parties to use a non-court dispute resolution procedure if the court is willing to consider that appropriate, and can facilitate the use of such procedures by overriding objectives to deal with cases justly, ensuring that all cases are dealt with expeditiously and fairly. The court should recognise and respect the diversity in all manner of people entering the court and to treat everyone fairly without fear, favouritism, affection or ill-will.
They must recognise....
• That all families are unique with shared tendencies and idiosyncrasies.
• That all families are the cornerstone of most communities and a key source of the children's personal identities.
• Differences in the outlook of all families and to remember its a diverse society.
• That families do not conform to the traditional model and are an increasingly common social reality.
• For the courts to encourage parents questions that they need to ask.
• For the courts to explain clearly to the parents exactly what steps they need to take.
• To take in to consideration the thoughts and feelings of the childrens wishes and views and to envolve and encourage all children over the age of 10 years old to take an active participation in court.
• To recognise and to challenge any discriminating remarks and comments also any unfair assumptions and to involve everyone equally.
• To ensure fairness and equality of opportunity.
• That the courts maintain and preserve the status quo while the reports are obtained and all the assessments are completed.
You can ask for the alternative dispute resolution....
You can ask for a family assistance order....
You can ask for an independent social worker to be assigned to your case.
You can ask for an independent psychological assessment to be carried out for fairness.
You can ask for an independent childrens advocate to be called in to work with your children so there views and thoughts are heard and known to the judge.
Issue and Allocation...
On Day 1
The Local Authority submit their application together with a full Annex and all their evidence and documents supporting their application in to the Family Courts. The Court will consider their application and ensure that the Local Authority has filed all the correct documents. They then issue the application and send it to the gatekeeping team in the Court to consider which level of Judge the case should be allocated to, depending on the complexity of the case.
The allocated Judge will then send out an Order called the ‘standard directions on issue’ which will list the first hearing and make court directions for certain documents to be prepared and sent to the Court in time for the first hearing. The directions will include that the Local Authorities should prepare all outstanding documents and they will allocate the Children a Guardian sent from CAFCASS so they can prepare a position statement or report. This Order should be prepared and sent out by the end of Day 2 to allow the parties sufficient time to prepare any documents required by the Court.
Stage two ...
Case Management Hearing....
This is the first Court hearing and should take place before Day 12 in the PLO process. Before any hearing, an Advocates’ Meeting will have taken place, no more than 2 days before, between all the legal representatives to discuss each party’s position in respect of the Local Authority’s application to the Court. Each party’s legal representative will also need to prepare a short statement, no longer than two sides of A4, which sets out their position so that the Court is aware of this prior to the hearing commencing.
In readiness for the first hearing, each party is also able to make an application for an expert to complete an assessment within the proceedings if they consider this to be necessary. Examples of expert assessments include parenting assessments or a psychiatric or psychological assessment of a parent or the child/ren. These applications will be considered by the Judge at the Case Management Hearing.
At this hearing, the Court will:
• Identify the key issues in the case
• Consider if there are any additional parties to the proceedings
• Analyse the care plan
• Create a timetable the proceedings
• Consider whether any expert evidence is required
• Determine whether a fact-finding hearing is required
•List the Issues Resolution Hearing and any Final Hearing
The Court may also consider making an interim Care or Supervision Order at the Case Management Hearing which will last for the duration of the proceedings and will consider making a Final Order at the Final Hearing.
The Court could consider that a fact-finding hearing is necessary. A fact-finding may be required, for example, in a case where there is more than one possible perpetrator who caused significant harm to a child and therefore the Court will need to determine who was the most likely perpetrator. This hearing would be heard just before any Final Hearing to determine the relevant factual history. This will help the Court in making long term plans for the child/ren’s care.
If all the issues cannot be addressed at this first hearing for any reason, the Court may consider listing a Further Case Management Hearing which must be heard by the Court by no later than Day 20 in the PLO process.
Stage three ...
Issues Resolution Hearing...
This is a hearing that is listed before any Final Hearing and is used to make final case management directions. If all the issues can be resolved at this stage, the Court may decide to use this hearing as an early Final Hearing.
At this hearing, the Court will:
• Identify any outstanding issues and try to narrow these down
• Review the timetable
• Give directions up to the Final Hearing including filing any final evidence and agreeing the time estimate of the Final Hearing
Stage four ....
Final Hearing ...
If the case cannot be resolved at the Issues Resolution stage, the case will proceed to a Final Hearing. At the Final Hearing, all the parties, including the parents, social worker and Children’s Guardian, together with any instructed experts in the case, will give oral evidence at Court allowing each party to be heard and challenged.
At the conclusion of a Final Hearing, the Judge will give a Judgment which sets out the Court’s decision. This must occur within 26 weeks of the Local Authority making their application and this deadline will only be extended in appropriate circumstances. An initial extension of time can be for 8 weeks and thereafter will be in blocks of 8 weeks.
How do I prepare for the final hearing in a care order case?
Your solicitor will receive copies of all the statements and reports filed during the case and also a copy of the council’s care plan, which sets out its plans for how your child should be cared for in the long term. It is important to read all these papers and talk to your solicitor about them. You should ask your solicitor to explain anything that is not clear.
If English is not your first language, you can ask for a written translation or use an interpreter to help you. If you are disabled, your solicitor should arrange for you to get any help you need to understand what is in the statements, or to get large-print text.
The court will ask you to make a statement. You can also ask family members or friends to make a statement and come to court as witnesses if you think they have information about your child that will help. You should tell your solicitor as soon as you can whether there is someone who is willing to care for your child if the court says you cannot. This person will have to be assessed by the council before the final hearing. Again, if you have not already had an FGC before the case started in court, you could ask for one now if you think it would help.
Your solicitor may talk to you about whether to let the court have information about your health. Your GP or other health professional can give the court information about you only if you agree. If you allow them to give a report to the court, then the council, the guardian and their legal advisers, as well as the court, will see the report.
Working with your solicitor
You can help your solicitor and yourself by doing the following:
• Have a folder or a special place at home where you keep all the information about the case, like notices from the court and letters from the social worker or your solicitor.
• Have a book to keep a note of telephone calls, conversations or meetings that you have with social workers and any other professionals involved in the case. Include the date and a brief note of what was said.
• Keep your own notes about what happened at a contact visit or assessment.
Always let your solicitor know about letters, special appointments or conversations with the council, including changes to arrangements, such as where and when you can see your child.
• Tell your solicitor as early as possible in the proceedings about anyone in your family network who would be willing and able to care for your child if you are unable to.
• Before you go to a meeting, see your solicitor or go to court, make a note of the important things that you want to say or ask.
• If you have agreed to see an expert or specialist, talk to your solicitor about what you can expect to happen at this meeting. If English is not your first language, check that the council has arranged an interpreter for the meeting.
• Try to get to court at least an hour before the time of the hearing so you can talk with your solicitor and take part in any discussions that take place before the court hearing starts. Wear tidy, comfortable clothes to court.
• The local council should help you with transport to get to meetings, if you need it.
If you have a problem getting around, or some other disability, talk to your solicitor to make sure that all meetings and visits are at a suitable place.
• It is very important that you work closely with your solicitor and any other professionals involved throughout the proceedings.
• It is also very important that you go to court. If you don’t, the court may have to make the order without taking into account your views.
Revocation of an Adoption Order (Freeing order) Explained.
If your child's adoptive placement breaks down....
The first thing you need to do as soon as your find out your child's placement has broken down is e.mail the children's social worker, and send a copy to Children Service Manager and Chief executive of the Local Authority and ask for an Immediate Meeting with them.
This meeting is called a Disruption Meeting. This is also used for when a foster placement breaks down aswell.
Please read the following;
A disruption is the premature ending of a placement of a children that has been placed for adoption.
A decision not to carry on with a potential adoptive placement during introductions is not considered a disruption for these procedures.
A placement can disrupted by the adoptive parents request, or by the local authorities who approved the placement for the children and different procedures may then apply..
Disruptions can occur both before or after an Adoption Order is made.
Disruption before making the Adoption Order
Where an adoptive placement disrupts making the Adoption Order, an Adoption Review will take place as soon as possible.
This will be chaired by the child Independent Reviewing Officer and will consider the following areas.
Whether the adoption plan for the child remains appropriate.
The arrangements for meeting the children's health and educational needs and whether any changes are required to assist the children's development.
The existing arrangements for contact and whether they need changing.
The adoption support needs of the children, the adopters and the birth relatives in relation to contact and where the children are subject to a Placement Order, the need to seek revocation of the Placement Order.
The carers who fostered the children before the move to the adoptive placement should be informed of the disruption.
Discussion should take place between the children and the prospective adopters’ social workers, and the foster carer’s supervising social worker about who should inform the foster carers, and who should offer them support should this be needed. This may also be an opportunity to explore whether the foster carers may have a role in offering some support to, or contact with, the child.
A Disruption Meeting will be held between 28 and 42 days of the Disruption to identify the reasons for the breakdown and to learn lessons from the events surrounding the breakdown. Consideration must be given to the timing of the Disruption Meeting and whether it would be helpful to hold the meeting before the Adoption Review.
An Adoption Team Manager will arrange for the meeting to be chaired by an experienced practitioner or manager from outside the Adoption Team and not involved in the line management of the case responsible social worker. In inter-agency placements, consideration will be given to having a chair from an independent agency. It is the responsibility of the Adoption Team Manager to commission this if needed and the other agency will be asked to share the cost. The prospective adopters’ social worker, or family finder in the case of inter-agency placements, will coordinate the arrangements for the meeting.
Those attending the meeting will be...
• The child’s social worker and line manager.
• The prospective adopter’s social worker and their line manager.
• The family finder.
• The prospective adopters (some may choose not to attend).
• The child’s previous and current foster carers.
• Consideration will also be given to inviting key professionals such as teachers.
If appropriate (for example, where Parental Consent to Adoptive Placement had been given).
• Birth parents will be invited to contribute to the process of the meeting, possibly in writing or via an interview/contact with the Chair of the meeting.
• It may also be appropriate to invite comments from other family members.
A pro forma letter of invitation to all the participants is available. This letter explains the purpose and overall agenda of the meeting.
If the Adoption Review decision is that adoption is no longer the plan for the child.
A freeing order...
Appealing a placement order....
Appealing a placement order for adoption used to be called "revoking a placement order". When the parents apply to the Courts to have their children's returned in to their care.
Post Adoption Contact...
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 sought to address issues of contact in recognition of the fact children were much older at adoption than had previously been the case, and therefore were more likely to have established links to their birth families.
Sections 26 and 27 of the Act places a duty on the court to consider contact arrangements for birth families and their children when making a placement order section 46 (6) comprises a duty to consider such arrangements when an adoption order is made.
The intention is for contact arrangements to be agreed by the parties. If agreement is not possible, an application can be made to the court for a contact order it is unusual for the court to make such an order, especially against the wishes of adoptive parents.
Contact arrangements with birth parents are usually indirect rather than face-to-face. Many families participate in letter-box contact once or twice a year, which involves exchanging information between the adoptive family and the birth parents. This contact is usually done through the adoption agency to protect the identity and location of the adoptive family. Direct contact with birth parents is rare it occurs more often with siblings.
It was important to remember that contact should be for the benefit of the child, not for the parents or other relatives.
The reasons why a child might benefit from contact were spelled out in evidence from After Adoption it is not about maintenance of the relationships as they were with the birth family...
What [children] like is to have some continuity that enables them to integrate the past with the present, and obviously then the future...
I think contact can play a very useful role for the child in helping them understand their world and their life history..
Practice in relation to post-adoption contact with birth family members varies considerably. We are concerned that the purpose of such contact may not be fully understood when arrangements are made.
Post-adoption contact should be considered only in relation to the needs and best interests of the child, with no presumption for or against allowing contact...
Given the importance of sibling relationships to many adopted children, we would be concerned if the new clause on post-adoption contact in the Children and Families Bill presented a barrier to maintaining such contacts.
Arguments in favour of contact with siblings are often made by the birth parents as respondents to the adoption application.
Under the new clause, parents would need to seek leave to make a contact application, as would siblings, but the ability of the latter to do so may be constrained in practice.
I sincerely hope that the new provision on obtaining leave to make an application for contact do not limit the potential for sibling contact to be considered by the court, when it is desired, and deemed to be in the child's best interests......
Care Orders Explained.
A Care Order or better known as an interim care order or ICO for the short term, means the Local Authority is given parental responsibility this does not necessarily mean that the parents lose there parental responsibility but it does mean that it is shared with the local authorities and the parents or anyone who has parental responsibility. Parents are not to act in a way which would be inconsistent with the Local Authority's plans.
The Care Order should be exercised in accordance with a Care Plan and the parents have a say in ongoing decision making about their child.
A Care Order lasts until a child is 18 years old.
A Care Order is reviewed regularly, at least six monthly. These reviews are known as LAC reviews or Looked After Children reviews.
A Care Order does not necessarily mean that your child will not be returned. Under a Care Order, the Local Authority has a duty to return children to the care of their parents wherever possible, and many children remain at home or return home when subject to a Care Order.
A Care Order does not necessarily mean that there will be no contact. The Local Authority has a duty to promote contact unless it applies for a Court order to refuse contact.
A Care Order does not necessarily mean adoption. The Local Authority must make a separate application to Court to free the child for adoption if this is their plan.
I.C.O Interim care orders Explained.
What is the definition of an Interim Care Order?...
An Interim Care Order has the same effect as a Care Order, It is a temporary court order intended for a limited duration and can last for up to 8 weeks and can be renewed every 4 weeks after that. The Order can only be granted if the Court feels there is good reason to believe that a child may be at serious risk of harm. This is usually used to preserve the current arrangements just until the court has had an oppotunity of hearing the full case and until the judge can make a final order about your child's future. It is particularly important during this time to cooperate with the Local Authority and with the Children’s Guardian, who is the person appointed independently to represent your child's needs.
Interim care order's are made when :
• There is sexual misconduct.
• There is substance or alcohol misuse.
• Police do a serious criminal investigations.
• There is theft from service users.
• There are serious mistakes are made.
They decide an application infront of a panel of with one of the practice committee's.
The panel can only impose an interim care order can last for no longer than 8 weeks unless the courts extend it for a further 4 weeks.
Challenging an Existing Care Order.
Under section 31, of the children's act 1989.
You can apply to the courts for Leave to revoke a Placement Order.
Once the care order has been in force for a period of 6 months. It would be unusual to be able to apply any earlier than this unless the local authorities was not acting in accordance with the care plan.
On the grounds of .....
Children's Act 1989, section 14D.
This is done by submitting an application in to your Local court's by using the Court Forms C110a.
Who can apply?
The child themselves.
The local authorities.
Anyone who holds parental responsibility for the child in question.
Another way to challenge a care plan is to make an application for contact under the care order, so that the contact arrangements can be reviewed. If the local authorities applies for permission to refuse contact then this would also provide the opportunity for a further review of the local authorities responsibilities.
If the child themselves are applying to the courts to discharge their own care order then they are legally entitled to free legal aid.
To challenge an existing care order you must be able to satisfy the courts by demonstrating that you have made enough relevant significant changes to your circumstances since the care order was granted.
The Courts make it very clear the Judge must feel very comfortable and confident that you have made significant changes at the first stage of the two stage test, if he does not and he isn't satisfied then it's game over.
Significant changes are .
• Change does not have to be recent. The Judge should not accept that the nature and degree of the change in circumstances in to which the parent's successfully establish should be demoted by it being a recent change. Applying this to your argument in court adds gloss to the words of the statute .
• One should not read word's into the statute that are not there.
• Take care in using a note of judgement as if it was a transcript.
• Change does not have to be solely change in the parent's. Remember it can be change in the life of the child, or in the life of the child's carer. The change in circumstances is not confined just to the parent's own circumstances. Depending upon the facts of the case, the child may themselves have changed in the interim.
Personally i would say it is unlikely that there will be many situations where the child’s situation and circumstances alone is enough to open the gateway under section 24(2) and (3).
In my opinion i don't think there needs to be an in-depth assessment of the child’s welfare or needs and situation at this first stage, As it will get looked at more closely and considered when it gets to the second stage anyway.
The two stages are...
1st stage is the Fresh evidence.
2nd stage is the Threshold test.
Procedure for applying to vary or discharge a care order........
Judiciary of England and wales STANDARD PROCEDURE of social care and discharging care orders. In effect 5th march 2015.
Cases should be concluded within ten weeks.
Day 1 issue and Allocation.
Day 2 gatekeeping and referral of file to relevant judge or legal advisor.
By day 14 Directions given by the court and served on the Local Authorities and cafcass.
Week 6 parent file response.
Week 8 report from cafcass.
By week 10 IRH / final hearing.
Looked after children/L.A.C plans and reviews.
LAC plans and reviews explained ....
* L.A.C reviews are regular meetings bringing together all the people who are closely concerned and connected with the care of your children.
who will attend...
* your children if their old enough to understand the concept of the review.
* you as their parent's.
* the social worker handling your case.
* the foster carers or children's homes care worker.
* the I.R.O ( independent reviewing officer) assigned to your case to sit the chair meeting.
* plus you as parents may ask a for a family member, a close friend that you trust to come along to support you or a legal body to represent you.
These reviews are usually held at...
* where you children would normally live.
* the main social services building in one of their conference rooms.
* at your local children's contact centre.
* at their school.
The intent of these L.A.C reviews is to review your children's care plan and to update document's which are currently set out on how your children will be cared for while they are being looked after by your local authorities. Your childrens progress will be discussed. The day-to-day care of your children will be updated. Your children's health and educational needs and progress will be updated, and their emotional well being aswell as the future plans for your children's long term care.
* the 1st review must be held within 4 weeks after your children are placed on the L.A.C order.
* after the 1st review if it is decided your children are to stay on a L.A.C order then the 2nd review must be within 3 months after the 1st review.
* after the 2nd review all further reviews must be held at least 1 every 6 months.
* if you can not attend you must contact your social worker asap and explain why.
* then you must write out a "consultation document" to make your views and thoughts clearly understand as to what you want the outcome to be from the L.A.C review in your absence as you can't be there in person, make sure you raise all your concerns, thoughts, feelings, views and what you want including your future plans for your children are clearly written down and known, do not be vague !!!!be brutal !!!!! or they may well be over looked and ignored by the independent reviewing officer.
after the L.A.C review has finished your children's social worker has a duty to contact you and to tell you what was said at the review and what happened along with all decisions they agreed on as to your children's plans they have made in your absence.