Care proceedings are Court proceedings brought by the Local Authority Social Services Department in which they may make an application for a “Care Order” or “Supervision Order” in respect of a child. Care proceedings are highly emotional and we have extensive experience in representing parents against whom such proceedings are brought. Given the traumatic nature of the proceedings we deal with these cases professionally, sensitively and with expertise.
If you have been contacted by Social Services about your children you must get in touch with us as soon as you can. This is always an extremely frightening time for parents and is a very specialist area of law. At Sweetman Burke & Sinker we have Lawyers who deal with care proceedings on a daily basis. They will help you understand why Social Services are involved and what you need to do to satisfy them that there is no need for care proceedings.
Legal Aid is usually available for these cases no matter what your financial circumstances. Please do not therefore put off contacting us because you are worried about cost. If proceedings are brought we will represent you at all the hearings and help you to comply with the Court’s directions so that you can make as good a case as is possible for your children to be returned to you. We will also help you to obtain as much contact as possible if the children are removed from your care temporarily.
Duties of the Local Authority.
The Local Authority will take action to protect children who they have reasonable grounds to believe are suffering harm or likely to suffer harm if protective measures are not put in place. The Social Services Department will normally write to a parent indicating their concern about the child and warning that care proceedings are being considered. You need to bring that letter to us as soon as you can. We can grant you legal aid and then begin to liaise with the Local Authority. We can also attend the meeting that normally follows such a letter. We can help you to put your point of view across and also understand the concerns expressed by the Local Authority.
Once proceedings are started we will again obtain legal aid for you. Your children will have a Guardian appointed for the purposes of the legal proceedings only and that Guardian will be represented by a Solicitor. The Guardian’s job is to represent the interests solely of the children. That Guardian is independent of yourselves and also of the Local Authority.
The various Orders that can be made by the Court include an Emergency Protection Order where a child is at risk of serious harm immediately. That Order normally lasts for 8 days but can be extended once for 7 days. The Court can make a Care Order which gives the Local Authority parental responsibility for the child in care. The Court can also make a Supervision Order which means that the child continues to live with you but the placement is supervised by the Social Services Department.
Please therefore if you receive notification from the Social Services Department that they are considering taking one of your children into care contact us immediately so that an early appointment can be made and we can start helping you.