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Care (and related) proceedings

If children’s services have good reason (‘reasonable grounds’) to believe a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer significant harm, they may start care proceedings. This is the process of applying to the Family Court for a care order or supervision order.

Understanding care proceedings and the law

When children’s services apply to begin care proceedings what are they asking the Family Court to do?

Children’s services are asking the Family Court to:

  • Consider a plan to keep a child safe and well cared for immediately
  • Make any court orders needed to help put that initial plan in place
  • Decide who the child should spend time with or be in touch with during the proceedings. This includes who the child should see, how often and other such arrangements. This is often referred to as contact arrangements.
  • Decide what further information is needed to help the court make final decisions about the child’s future care
  • Make final decisions, at the end of the proceedings, about who the child should live with and stay in touch with.

If a parent or carer is told, or thinks, care proceedings are about to be started what should they do first?

  1. Get urgent legal advice from a solicitor who is a specialist in children law. Or who has Children Law Accreditation.  To find a solicitor, search using the ‘how to find a solicitor’ function on the Law Society website.  See our Working with a solicitor guide on our Top tips and templates page for more information about finding  a solicitor
  2. They can post a question for one of our expert advisers on our Advice Forums, and if needing further or more detailed advice
  3. Contacts us – call Family Rights Group’s specialist legal and practice advice line on 0808 801 0366 (the advice line is open Monday to Friday, from 9.30 am to 3 pm excluding bank holidays).

Where is the law about care proceedings found?

The law and guidance about care proceedings is found in:

These things combine to ensure:

  • Children’s services support parents and families to resolve concerns
  • Where this is not possible, children’s services explore who within the family and friends network may be able to care for their child
  • If care proceedings begin, the Family Court has evidence of all of the possible long term care options for the child.

Eight big questions about care proceedings

These eight FAQs answer questions parents, carers and other family members often have when they first hear about, or become involved in, care proceedings.

Urgent protection of children (including police protection and emergency protection orders)

The stages of care proceedings

Interim arrangements and plans for children during care proceedings

Contact arrangements for children during care proceedings

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