What may happen if children’s services think immediate steps need to be taken to protect a new-born baby?
4 minute read
The steps children’s services take will to immediately protect a baby will depend on the precise situation and urgency. Read on for an easy to follow introduction to some of the actions that may be taken – voluntary arrangements (section 20), emergency Family Court orders and care proceedings.
Children’s services may:
- Ask for the parent to agree to the child being cared for elsewhere under a voluntary arrangement. This could be with a relative or with unrelated foster carers . See our Children in the care system under voluntary arrangements (section 20) page for further information
- Ask the police to take steps to protect the baby (police protection) if there is not time for children’s services to go to court for an order to protect the child. Or if the police reach the child first (for example, they are called to an emergency) they may simply exercise these powers
- Ask the Family Court to make an urgent court order to protect the baby, by removing them to the care of a relative. Or to unrelated carers. This could be an emergency protection order for example.
Or children’s services may make an application to start care proceedings once the baby is born. When children’s services do this they are asking the Family Court to:
- Consider a plan to keep the baby safe and well cared for immediately (and, if necessary, any other children in the home). This could include a plan to remove the child under an interim care order
- Make any court orders needed to help put that initial plan in place
- Decide who the baby should spend time with during the proceedings. This includes who they should see, how often and other such arrangements. This is often called contact arrangements
- Make final decisions, at the end of the proceedings, about who the child should live, see or be in contact with
- Decide what further information is needed to make those final decisions.
See our Care (and related) proceedings page for more information about urgent court orders children’s services can seek, including emergency protection orders and interim care orders. It provides more information about police protection.
How children’s services respond will depend on the precise situation. Whatever steps are taken, it will be important for any parent or carer to seek urgent legal advice.
Our Working with a solicitor guide explains how to in find a solicitor.
And it is important to remember that children’s services:
- Should work in partnership with children and families. See our Children’s services page for information about this and other important principles that should guide how children’s services work
- Should explore what help and support is available within the wider family and friends’ network. A family group conference can be a good way to do this. A good way to do this is with a family group conference (FGC). This is a family-led decision-making meeting. It brings together the whole family, and others who will be important to the child. Together, at the family group conference, they make a plan for the child. See our Family group conferences: advice for families page for further information
- Cannot themselves remove a child from their parent or carer unless either:
- The Family Court has granted an order, approving a plan for the removal of the child or
- Someone with parental responsibility for the child has agreed for them to be looked after in the care system under a voluntary arrangement and there no legally valid objection to this. See our Quick facts about voluntary arrangements below for an easy to follow guide to when voluntary arrangements cannot be put in place or continue.
Voluntary arrangements: Quick facts for parents and other carers
- A child cannot be looked after in the care system under a voluntary arrangement if:
- Someone with parental responsibility for the child objects and
- That person can provide the child with a place to live themselves, or
- They can arrange a place for the child to stay.
- The exception to this is if:
- Someone who has a child arrangements order or special guardianship order for the child thinks the child should be (or continue to be) in a voluntary arrangement, or
- The child is 16 or 17 and able to agree to remaining in the voluntary arrangement themselves.
- Children’s services do not have parental responsibility for any child who looked after in a voluntary arrangement.
- A child can be removed from a voluntary arrangement at any time by a parent who has parental responsibility. But the same exception in point 2. applies too
- If a parent (or carer) with parental responsibility is in a position to remove their child, no notice is required. No restrictions should put on the parent in relation to their right to remove their child.