In short, care proceedings are when Children’s Services asks the court to look at your child’s situation and decipher whether a child needs a legal order to keep them safe. Your child’s social worker will do this if they think that your child cannot remain safely in their home. However, there are a few other useful pieces of information relating to legal care proceedings that we will talk you through in this blog. Read on to find out more.
How does this process work?
If a Local Authority issues care proceedings, this means that they will generally be seeking either a Care Order or Supervision Order. If Children’s Services believe a child is at risk of significant harm, they can apply to a court for permission to take action to protect the child in question – this is referred to as Care Proceedings. If such proceedings are addressed, you are entitled to, as a parent, to free legal advice and representation throughout your case irrespective of your financial circumstances.
In what circumstances will Care Proceedings be initiated?
If Children’s Services think a child is suffering significant harm they can apply to a court for permission to take action to protect the child. This particular policy is contained in Section 31 of the Children Act 1989. A child’s social worker will take this step if they believe that the child can no longer remain safely within the home.
Legal Aid is available for parents in these cases and for anyone else who holds Parental Responsibility for a child in question. If you have received a “letter before proceedings” or “letter of issue” you will be eligible for non-means, non-merits legal aid.
Letter before proceedings
This letter is sent to the parents where Children’s Services have decided that further time should be given. The letter will be intended to warn parents that if the care given to the child does not improve, Children’s Services will need to carry out Care Proceedings.
Letter of issue
This letter is sent to the parents when Children’s Services decide it is not in the child’s best interests for their current circumstances to continue and the child should instead be removed and put into care.
The letter explains that Children’s Services intend to start Care Proceedings. You seek legal advice and representation in such circumstances.
Has your child been taken into care? If social services feel concerned about a child’s welfare, they can begin care proceedings. This involves assessing the environment in which the child is being raised. If your child is in care and you are unsure of your parental rights, contact Richards & Lewis today.