What are Childcare Proceedings?
The Local Authority has a duty to intervene and start Childcare Proceedings if there are concerns that a child is at risk as a result of the care that they are being given.
What is the role of Social Services in Childcare Proceedings?
In a lot of cases Social Workers are only involved for a short period of time and the family are then left to get on with their lives. From the moment a Social Worker is involved, families are monitored and everything can be taken into account at a later date. Sometimes families do not fully understand this and so things happen that they later regret which lead to problems down the line.
What is a Child Protection Case Conference?
Social Services may call for a Child Protection Case Conference to take place this will allow Social Services to see if your child could be properly protected without a Care Order being made. However if this doesn’t work then Social Services will start childcare Proceedings, which normally takes up to 40 weeks from start to finish.
What we can do to help with Childcare Proceedings?
At Ringrose Law we have a large experienced team of case workers who deal day in day out with families who are involved with the Local Authority and Social Services.
We cannot stress how important it is for you to take legal advice even if you think you are managing the situation well with Social Services or the Local Authority. Things change quickly and they do have the power to apply to the Court for powers to make decisions to overrule you as a parent or carer for a child. They can only do this if there are grounds that the child is suffering risk of harm but the Family Courts do not take any risks and if there is even a small element of doubt then they will give the Local Authority the power they need, even on a temporary basis.
What if Social Services think my child is in imminent danger?
If Social Services suspect your child is in immediate danger they can take a number of steps to protect your child, including applying for an Emergency Protection Order which will remove the child from your care for up to eight days whilst further investigations are undertaken.
What will happen if social services start Childcare Proceedings?
If you are notified that Social Services are starting Childcare Proceedings then you must contact us immediately. This first step will involve an initial Court hearing (this takes place six days after the Local Authority has made the application) and an Interim Care Order will be made.
It is important you understand what this means and the consequences for your child. We can work with you to ensure you and your child’s best interests are maintained.
What happens at the initial Court hearing?
The Court will not usually make any final decisions at the first hearing. The Court will do one of the following;
- Decide whether to make an Interim Care Order (an Order that will say where the child shall live and who will look after them until the final hearing)
- Appoint a guardian and a solicitor to represent the child in the proceedings
- Decide whether the case should be transferred to another Court
- Decide how the case should be prepared for the final hearing
What happens after an Interim Order is made?
After the Interim Order has been made there will be a series of interim hearings. The interim hearings will continue to monitor the child’s living arrangements, who the child will see and how the case will proceed. The Court will also consider whether or not Orders and directions already made should be renewed or changed, all the time assessing the child’s best interests and safety.
It can take up to a maximum of 26 weeks before the case is ready for the Final Hearing. Some cases take longer than this depending on the circumstances of the case.
Speak to us
It is important that you inform your solicitor about any problems or aspects of the current arrangements that you are unhappy with and to keep a record of all information about your childcare Proceedings.
The Court will then hold a meeting called a Case Management Conference where they will decide what evidence it will need for the final hearing and will make further Childcare Proceedings.
We are proud to be accredited by Resolution as a Specialist in the areas of Private Children Law and Domestic Violence.
For further help and advice contact the Family Law team at Ringrose Law Solicitors in Lincoln, Boston, Grantham, Sleaford, Spalding and Newark.