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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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When exactly will a placement order be made?

A placement order will often be made at the final hearing in care proceedings, at the same time as a care order. This is because a care plan for adoption can only be put into cation if children’s services have the court’s permission to place the child with prospective adopters.

Sometimes placement order proceedings happen separately. But this is usually soon after the care proceedings have ended. And only if in the care proceedings the Family Court decided a plan of adoption was best for the child. And a care order was made.

It is important for parents and families to be aware that the placement order stage is a key time when decisions are made about whether or not a child can go on to be adopted. So parents must ensure they have sought legal advice from a specialist children law solicitor for the care and placement order proceedings.

Adoption can only be considered as an option for a child if the court is satisfied there is no one else in the child’s family and friends’ network who can care for them.

The two highest courts in England (and Wales) are the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. They have decided cases that outline the legal tests for deciding whether adoption is the right option for a child. These cases have considered whether children should be adopted. Or whether there might be kinship care (family and friends) placements for them. This is because before adoption can be considered as an option for a child, the Family Court must be satisfied there is no one in the child’s family and friends’ network who can care for them.

These cases are:

Together they make clear that:

  • Orders contemplating adoption where parents do not agree to it are a ‘last resort’
  • Adoption orders should only be made against parents’ wishes ‘where nothing else will do’ (a phrase used by a judge in the case of Re B (A Child) [2013] UKSC 33)
  • A Family Court can only conclude ‘nothing else will do’ if it has looked at all of the options that are realistically possible for a child
  • Nothing else will do means being sure all of the possible realistic options for the child to be cared for within their family and friends’ network have been looked at first
  • That both options on the mothers and family sides of the family should have been looked at
  • The court must analyse the arguments for and against each of the possible realistic options

An option will not be realistically possible if the court is ‘in a position of some confidence and clarity that the option is plainly not one that would have any real prospect of being chosen if a full welfare evaluation of all the pros and cons were undertaken’ (see paragraph 54 in the case of Re S (A Child) [2015] EWCA Civ 325).

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