A Local Authority has a duty to intervene and start Child Care Proceedings if they become aware that that a child may be at risk as a result of the care that they are being given.
What is a Child Protection Case Conference?
The local authority must hold a meeting called a Child Protection Conference if they have ongoing concerns about a child after their first investigations. The following professionals should take part in a child protection conference:
Social workers, the police, the child’s school, the child’s healthcare professionals (for example, doctor and health visitor) probation services and any other professionals who are involved.
You, as parent, will also be invited to the Child Protection Conference.
What if Social Services think my child is in imminent danger?
If Social Services suspect your child is in immediate danger they can take a number of steps to protect your child, including applying for an Emergency Protection Order which means they can remove the child from your care whilst further investigations are undertaken.
What will happen if Social Services start Child Care Proceedings?
If you are notified that Social Services are starting Child Care Proceedings then it is essential that you contact us immediately.
The first steps
The first steps will involve an initial Court hearing which will take place very quickly after the Local Authority has made the application and an Interim Care Order will be made. We can work with you to ensure you and your child’s best interests are maintained.
What happens at the initial Court hearing?
- The Court will not usually make any final decisions at the first hearing. The Court can do one ( or more) of the following:
- Decide whether to make an Interim Care Order (an Order that will say where the child shall live and who will look after them until the final hearing)
- Appoint a guardian and a solicitor to represent the child in the proceedings
- Decide whether the case should be transferred to another Court
- Decide how the case should be prepared for the final hearing
What happens after an Interim Order is made?
After the Interim Order has been made there will be a series of interim hearings. The interim hearings will continue to monitor the child’s living arrangements, who the child sees and how the case will proceed. The Court will also consider whether or not Orders and directions already made should be renewed or changed, taking into account at all times the child’s best interests and safety. It can take up to a maximum of 26 weeks before the case is ready for the Final Hearing. Some cases take longer than this depending on the circumstances of the case. The Court will then hold a meeting called a Case Management Conference where they will decide what evidence it will need for the final hearing and will make further Child Care Proceedings.
What we can do to help with Child Care Proceedings?
Warren’s Family Law have a very experienced team of case workers who deal day in day out with families who are involved with the Local Authority and Social Services.
Speak to us
It is important that you inform us about any problems or aspects of the current arrangements that you are unhappy with and to keep a record of all information about your child and the proceedings.
Public funding is available to parents of children who are subject to care proceedings.
It is very important that you speak to us as soon as possible so that we can arrange for representation at the earliest opportunity.
Debbie Smith, Senior Solicitor and Mediator
Warren’s Law & Advocacy
Disclaimer: While we do all that is possible in terms of ensuring its accuracy, this blog contains general information only. Nothing in these pages constitutes legal advice. You need to consult a suitably qualified lawyer from the firm on any specific legal problem or matter.