If your case involves Social Care, it can often be a very confusing process.
There are a lot of phrases and procedures involved. At Jordans, we strive to ensure that our clients fully understand every aspect of their case. To help you understand some of the areas of Child Care Law that we specialise in, we have provided a glossary, explaining those terms.
A Care Order is a Court Order allowing the Local Authority to share parental responsibility with the parents of a child. If the Local Authority have begun care proceedings, they may seek a Care Order to place the child into Local Authority care. This type of Order could only be made if the Court decides that there are good reasons to believe that the child has been harmed or the child is at risk of being harmed and that this is the best thing for the child.
Interim Care Order
This is a time limited (usually 28 days) but renewable Care Order that would be made by the Court during the proceedings; and before any final Orders are made. Typically, an Interim Care Order (or ICO) would be used to share parental responsibility with the parents temporarily, to place the child into foster care or into a family placement, whilst decisions are being made about the child’s future.
A Supervision Order does not give the Local Authority parental responsibility but would mean that the Social Care department would be involved with the child and how the child is being cared for. Social Care would advise, assist and befriend the family. The Court can also make an Interim Supervision Order during the course of the proceedings. Once again this type of Order could only be made if the Court decides that there are good reasons to believe that the child has been seriously harmed or the child is likely to be seriously harmed and that this is the best thing for the child.
Emergency Protection Order
This is an Order allowing Social Care to remove a child into accommodation, or to prevent a child from being removed from hospital or voluntary foster care. This order will only be made if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child is likely to suffer significant harm if they are not removed or kept where they are. An Emergency Protection Order can only be made for 8 days, however the Court can grant an extension for a maximum of 7 days.
Special Guardianship Order
A Special Guardianship Order is an Order that appoints one or more individuals to be a child’s special guardian. The special guardian is usually a family member and gives them commanding parental responsibility. This means that the special guardian’s decision would be the final decision on a matter for the child, even through they share parental responsibility with the parents. The Order provides a greater degree of permanence for a child and is considered as a more suitable alternative to adoption.
A Placement Order is an Order giving permission to the Local Authority to place a child for adoption with any prospective adopters. A Placement Order would be made once the Court has decided whether a Care Order should be made.
An Adoption Order gives parental responsibility to the adoptive carers; and extinguishes the parental responsibility which any other person had for the child.
International Adoption Order
An International Adoption Order is also known as intercountry adoption or transnational adoption. This is a type of adoption in which an individual or couple becomes the legal and permanent parent(s) of a child who is a national of a different country. In general, prospective adoptive parents must meet the legal adoption requirements of their country of residence and those of the country whose nationality the child holds.
Police Protection Order
A Police Protection Order is an Order made by the Police in emergency circumstances whereby a child is at risk of significant harm if they did not act immediately. A child can only be kept in police protection for 72 hours. This is usually to alert Social Care and allow time to make any emergency Court applications.
Pre Proceedings Meeting
Care Proceedings are governed by a framework known as the Public Law Outline (PLO). This is to ensure that all cases are dealt with fairly and without delay. Part of the PLO procedure requires the Local Authority to consider whether a case can avoid going to Court with the cooperation of the parents. If this is the case, the Local Authority will arrange a Pre-Proceedings meeting to discuss their concerns and consider how to avoid the case going to court.
Child Protection Case Conference
A Child Protection Case Conference is a multi-agency meeting that could include representatives from school, health service, police and Social Care. The meeting is to discuss the case of a particular child or children. The meeting is chaired and will require each agency invited, to comment on the child(ren) and their views about their safety and welfare. If there are concerns about the child(ren) then the member attending will vote on whether or not to place the child(ren) onto a Child Protection Plan. This plan would require all agencies involved, as well as the parents/ relatives, to address those concerns and avoid the matter needing Court intervention.
Allegations of injury, abuse or neglect
Child abuse can take four forms, all of which can cause long term damage to a child; physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and child sexual abuse. Bullying and domestic violence are also forms of child abuse. If an allegation is made, it will be the duty of the Local Authority to investigate the cause and decide whether it is safe for the child(ren) to remain in their current placement. If the allegation is very serious, it is likely that the Local Authority will issue Care Proceedings and have the Court determine the issue.
Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) Proceedings
Launched in January 2008, FDAC is a new way of dealing with care proceedings when parental substance misuse causes harm to children.
FDAC aims to help parents stabilise or stop using drugs and /or alcohol and, where possible, keep families together. The process involves co-ordinating a range of services so that a family’s needs and strengths are taken into account, with everyone working towards the best possible outcome for the child: that is, a safe and stable family.
The FDAC is currently operating in London, but as of November 2015, this scheme is being rolled out across Yorkshire.