Social work evidence template
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This is a standard form that children’s services should use as a guide when applying to the court to start care proceedings. It contains a statement from the social worker summarising their concerns. It must include the points that children’s services rely on to demonstrate to the court that the threshold criteria are met. This ‘threshold statement’ provides the court with an outline of the facts that children’s services will seek to establish during proceedings. For example, a list of incidents that children’s services consider amount to evidence of neglect or abuse. Children’s services will rely on these when seeking to persuade the court that the threshold criteria for seeking a court order has been met.
The social work evidence template should also include:
- An explanation to the court as to what orders are being sought. This includes whether children’s services are asking the court to make interim orders at the outset of proceedings. For example an interim care order.
- An analysis of the impact on the child of what has been happening in their life. This should include the child’s wishes and feelings.
- An assessment of the child’s needs and the parents’ ability to meet those needs.
- An analysis of the pros and cons of all possible options for the child’s care. This will be both on an interim and long-term basis. It must include whether there are family or friends who may be able to care for the child.
The aim of the social work evidence template is to ensure that social workers submit clear evidence to the court and other parties as to why children’s services think a court order is in the child’s best interests. The format of the social work evidence template aims to ensure that the application made on behalf of children’s services meets all the requirements of the public law outline from the outset. This can help to avoid any delay for the child.
Use of the social work evidence template is not compulsory. However, its use is recommended by senior judges, the government, Cafcass and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service.