Public Law Care Proceedings

What are Care Proceedings and how do they work?

If you need legal assistance or representation, we will strongly advise you to seek it out, we particularly recommend Wilson Browne. The Local Authority should provide you with a list of local Child Law solicitors; however, they may also direct you to the following resources for solicitors in your region:

Care Proceedings are court proceedings conducted by the Local Authority’s Children’s Services department in connection with a child’s application for a “Care Order” or “Supervision Order.” If Children’s Services believe that a kid is in danger of major injury, they may apply to the court for authorization to intervene on behalf of the youngster – these are known as Care Proceedings.

In which situations will a Care Proceeding be launched?

Children’s Services can apply to the court for permission to act to protect a child if they believe that the youngster is undergoing significant injury or risk of significant damage. This criterion is outlined in Section 31 of the Children Act 1989. If the social worker believes the kid may no longer be safe at home, she will take this step.

Pre-Proceedings Meeting

Unless the circumstances are such that an application must be made to court immediately, Care Proceedings will not be started until substantial efforts have been made to retain the child with their birth family. The responsibility of Children’s Services under the Public Law Outline is for a meeting before proceedings begin. This session is designed to prevent matters from going to court at all costs.

At the pre-proceedings meeting, parents will be given a letter providing them with an overview of what children’s services are looking for and what steps have been taken so far to try and address those issues. The letter will request that the parents attend the pre-proceedings meeting, which must take place within seven days of its delivery.

The meeting will be attended by both parents, the Children’s Services representative on both sides, and a legal counsel (see the section below). It will be made clear to the parents what they must do to allay Children’s Services’ worries. If these measures are not followed through properly and if Children’s Services still has significant issues for a child’s safety, care proceedings will be taken up.

Availability of Legal Aid. 

Parents with cases of parental kidnapping qualify for legal aid. Anyone else who is responsible for a kid in question may obtain it. If you get a “letter before proceedings” or a “letter of issue,” you may be eligible for non-means, non-merits tested legal aid.

Letter before proceedings: This letter is sent to the parents of a youngster who has been placed in Children’s Services care for further time. The letter is intended to notify parents that if the child’s care does not improve, Children’s Services will begin Care Proceedings.

Letter of issue: This letter is sent to the parents when Children’s Services believe it isn’t in the child’s best interests for the present circumstances to continue and the kid should be taken away and placed in care. The letter informs you that Children’s Services intend to begin Care Proceedings.

Who is allowed to attend court hearings?

Because you are the parent or legal representative of the child, and since you hold Parental Responsibility for him or her, you will be a” party to proceedings.” If you are a” party to proceedings,” this implies that you have a right to attend each Court Hearing and receive all reports and evidence relating to the pertinent case.

Those who are not automatically a party to proceedings may apply for permission to be joined as a ‘party in proceedings.’ A C2 form is necessary, and the fee for this procedure is £155.

Timeline of a lawsuit

Section 14(2) of the Children and Families Act 2014 extends s.32(1)(a) of the Children Act 1989 to add that a case must be completed: without delay; and, in any event, within 26 weeks, starting with the day on which the application was submitted. Practice Direction 12A describes the court process for public law care proceedings. Section 32(1)(a) of the Children Act 1989 is amended by adding “and (b)” after “resolution.”

Interim Care Order

If Children’s Services feels that the child requires removal from the care of his or her parents before the conclusion of their case, a Social Worker will request a temporary court order called an “interim care order.” Those who are “parties to proceedings” will be able to attend this court hearing and make statements. At this session, the court will determine whether:

If the court agrees, Children’s Services may place the youngster in care temporarily for up to eight weeks at first.

Case management hearing

Case Management is the court hearing where case management instructions will be given. The Court provides comprehensive case management instructions, which include:

This is usually a quick hearing, which will address minor legal issues that allow the case to be prepared for a courtroom hearing at which a final decision will be made.

Hearing on the Status of Issues Resolution

The goal of this hearing is to determine if the care case may be settled quickly. If it is not possible to do so, the purpose is to identify and narrow down the concerns for resolution at a final hearing. If everyone in the case can agree on who should live with whom and how contact should occur, it will likely be concluded quickly.

Final Hearing

If the parents and social workers are unable to reach an agreement regarding the child, the case will proceed to a final hearing. The court will rule on whether a Care Order or Supervision Order is needed to protect the kid’s wellbeing. If the court decides that a Court Order is required considering the circumstances, last decisions will be made about where the kid should live and communicate with his or her parents and extended family.

The court has several possible ultimate judgments it may reach:

  • Care Order: The local authority gains custody of the youngster and has parental responsibility for him or her until he or she reaches the age of 18 (unless discharged before). Please see our page on ‘Care Orders’ for further information.
  • Supervision Order: The court may grant a local authority the power to oversee the child’s demands while he or she remains at home or elsewhere. Please see our page on “Supervision Orders.”
  • Special Guardianship Order: An Order that places a child or young person on a long-term basis with someone other than his or her parent(s). Please see our page on ‘Special Guardianship Orders’ for further information.
  • Placement Order: Even if the child’s parents refuse to give permission, the Court allows the Local Authority to place him or her for adoption.

If you’re in need of legal assistance for your Care Proceedings, why not contact Wilson Browne.