Our Child Care department will advise you if Social Services are involved with your family.

Duties of local authorities

'To safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need and, so far as it consistent with that duty, to promote the upbringing of such children by their families' - S.17 CHILDREN ACT 1989

Every Local Authority has a duty to provide services to support children and their families. This can range from offering a family support worker for a fixed period of time who assists with attending appointments or gives parenting guidance, to assisting with completing benefit applications.

Applications can be bought by Social Services such as Supervision Order or Interim Supervision or Care Orders.

S. 31 + S. 35 Children Act 1989

An order which does not give the Local Authority parental responsibility but a duty to 'advise, assist and befriend the supervised child';

Supervision Orders last for a year but can be extended before their expiry. If no such application is made then they expire at the end of the original period;

A Supervision Order cannot be made unless the threshold criteria are met (see below).

S.31 + S.33 Children Act 1989

An order which gives the Local Authority parental responsibility for a child and the right to exercise it to the exclusion of all others with Parental Responsibility, and a right to accommodate the child; The court cannot make a Care Order unless the threshold criteria are met (see below);

The court cannot make a Care Order on a child who is 17 (or 16 if married); A Care Order will last until a child is 18 unless a different order is made; A Care Order will discharge a Residence Order;

If a Care Order is in force a Local Authority must hold a Looked After Child Review in relation to that child every 6 months; It is possible to have a Care Order and the child live at home, but many Local Authorities have a policy of not doing so and the most common situation would be a Supervision Order with the child at home.

S.38 Children Act 1989

Interim orders can be made at the first hearing if the Local Authority believes this is necessary to protect the child whilst the proceedings are ongoing.

The test for making an Interim Order is lower than a full order, the court only needs reasonably grounds for believing that the child is at risk of suffering significant harm, which is often not very difficult to prove bearing in mind the circumstances under which these proceedings often come to court. The Court is not going to risk a child coming to harm even if it has no evidence that it actually has, so an application for an Interim Care Order is notoriously difficult to oppose.

Often the best you can do is try to negotiate good terms for contact, or that the child stays with a family member, or stays at home with a tight written agreement for daily visits or regular drug testing. The court has no discretion to give you these terms, the court will either make the Interim Care Order or not, so negotiation is usually done outside of court.

In childcare matters you have the option of legal aid however we are not funded by legal aid. However, we at Sunrise Solicitors offer reasonable and competitive prices to assist you with your matter.

Every parent, or person with parental responsibility, is entitled to Legal Aid to fund a solicitor to represent them within care proceedings.

If you find yourselves involved in these proceedings, or with any involvement in your family from Social Services, then it is important to ask for legal advice.

The health and well-being of the client is of paramount consideration and we will provide a high quality and professional advice and services.