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Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

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By phone or email

To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). For Textphone dial 18001 followed by the advice line number. Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

Discuss on our forums

Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

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Interim care order

This is a short-term court order which means that a child becomes looked after in the care system.

An interim care order is often made at the start of care proceedings. It will usually last until the court is able to make a final decision. It can be ended before then if the court decides that the order is no longer necessary.

A court will only make an interim care order if it has reasonable grounds to believe that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. This harm must be due to the care being provided to the child by his parents, or because the child is beyond parental control. This is a lower test than that at a final hearing.

Case law (principles based on earlier relevant court judgments) has established two clear principles in relation to interim care orders:

  • The court’s decision must be limited to issues that cannot wait until the final hearing.
  • A child’s removal from the family home can only be ordered if it is necessary to ensure the child’s immediate protection.

In all cases, the court must also be satisfied that the making of an interim care order is in the child’s best interests.

While it lasts, an interim care order has the same effect as a final care order. Children’s services have the same responsibilities towards all looked after children (whether an interim or final care order is in place). A care plan must be drawn up for the child. An independent reviewing officer must be appointed before the first review of the care plan.

When an interim care order is in place, children’s services share parental responsibility with the parents. Children’s services must ask the parents for their views and wishes about any decision concerning their child. However, children’s services have the final say. They can make plans for the child even if the parents do not agree.

For more information see our advice pages on:

Care (and related) proceedings

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