Long-term child protection measures have to be referred to the court under what are termed Care Proceedings.
A Social Services Department can ask the court to make a Care Order (including a short term "Interim" Care Order) if the court is satisfied that the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm and that the harm or its likelihood is as a result of the care the child is receiving (or if the child is beyond parental control).
Orders can last for a first period of up to eight weeks and thereafter the situation has to be reviewed at four weekly intervals by the court.
Strict timetables are now set down for Courts dealing with such matters under what is called the Protocol for Judicial Case Management in Public Law Children Act cases. Details of this can be found on the website www.dca.gov.uk. The court will wish to have the best possible information about the child and the family and may order the carrying out of assessments by experts.
If You Are Involved In A Child Protection Case
It is vitally important that parents obtain legal advice to find out how best to present their case and to consider what expert assessments may be necessary to reach the truth of any given situation. If you are involved in any child protection case you should be aware that free legal aid is available for all parents involved in court proceedings and you may well be entitled to legal help for any preliminary work for example in attending a Child Protection Conference.
How Can We Help With Child Protection Cases?
In our role as legal advisors to you as parents, we will:
- Attend every important meeting with you.
- Represent you at any hearings.
- Guide you through what can be a traumatic process.
If at all possible the court will want to work to reuniting a child with his or her family provided any concerns can be addressed and the child can return in safety. If you are subject to an investigation by Social Services please do not delay obtaining legal advice.