Care and supervision orders

What is a care order?

A care order gives parental responsibility for the care of a child to the local authority. The parents will continue to have parental responsibility, although the local authority can limit the parent's exercise of parental responsibility in the best interests of the child.

What is a supervision order?

A supervision order does not give a local authority parental responsibility for a child. The parents will continue to exercise parental responsibility for the child but the local authority have a duty to advise, assist and befriend the child and take such steps as are necessary to give effect to the order including:

  • to live at a particular place for a particular period;
  • to present the child to a specified person at a certain time and place; 
  • requiring the child to participate in specific activities.

When will a local authority seek a care or supervision order?

A local authority will seek a care order if it believes a child is not receiving the quality of care it is reasonable to expect from a parent and the lack of care is causing significant harm to the child. Generally before making an application a local authority will investigate the child's circumstances and will try and work with the parents by providing support services, to try and avoid making a care or supervision application. If however the local authority concludes that the child remains at risk, it will make an application to the court.

What happens if an application is made?

If a care or supervision application is filed at court the parent's with parental responsibility will be made parties to the proceedings. The court will also appoint a guardian to look after the interests of the children and will request reports from the social worker, guardian and any other relevant parties or experts e.g. psychologists. 

What happens if a care order is made?

If the local authority obtains a care order for the child, it will decide where the child should live. The local authority must place the child with one of the following people:

  • a parent, or
  • someone who is not the child's parent but has parental responsibility for them, or
  • someone who already has a residence order for the child before the care order was made.

If it is not practical or in the best interest of the child to live with one of the above people, the local authority must investigate other suitable arrangements for the child's care, including: This person must also be a local authority foster parent and be one of the following people:

  • a relative
  • friend
  • another person who the child knows.

This person must be approved by the local authority as a foster parent. If the local authority cannot place the child with one of the above, they will then look at the following options:

  • a placement with a local authority foster parent who is not a relative, friend or other person who the child knows, or
  • a placement in a children's home, or
  • another suitable arrangement for the child's care; or
  • adoption by approved adoptive parents. 

How we can help?

If the local authority are threatening to take or have taken your child into care, you should seek legal advice. Legal aid for care or supervision proceedings is non-means tested, which means that you will be eligible for legal aid regardless of your financial circumstances.

Need further advice?

If you need more detailed advice about care or supervision proceedings call us on (01228) 829530 to arrange an initial consultation or request a free call back.