Care and Supervision Orders issued by the Courts
You can ask our online solicitors for advice on care and supervision order using the question box on the front of our website or the following free legal advice guide may answer your questions.
Part IV of the Children’s Act 1989 created Care and Supervision Orders. It may be necessary in certain situations to issue a Care and Supervision Order. These orders can be issued under Section 31(2) of the Children’s Act 1989 provided that the following conditions are met:
- A child in question is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, or the child is likely to experience harm if the order is not granted
- The court cannot grant an order for a child aged 17 and over or, if the child is married, 16 years
- An application for a care or supervision order can be made independently or in conjunction with ongoing family proceedings
When an application for the order is made, a care plan application may also be submitted. In this instance, the local authority must prepare a detailed care plan for the child within a specific timeframe outlined by the court.
In the context of a Care and Supervision Order it is important to understand what is meant by significant harm. This would relate to the ill treatment or impairment of the development or health of a child. Development would mean physical, emotional, social, intellectual or behavioural development.
When the court hearing takes place, there may be arrangements in place to protect the child from harm. These arrangements are usually made by the local authority. When legal proceedings begin, it will be necessary to establish when the child began to suffer from harm. Where the local authority has made suitable arrangements to protect the child temporarily and these have now elapsed, the court will consider ‘is suffering’ to be from the actual date of the court hearing.
Likely to Suffer
Where the child is ‘likely to suffer’ harm, this should be taken seriously. Potential cannot be ignored.
Representation in relation to the child
When supervision or care order proceedings commence, the Court must appoint a representative for the child. Usually this will be an officer from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services (CAFCASS). The only situation when an office will not be appointed is when the interest and welfare of the child can be safeguarded without the need for an officer.
Once the child representative is in place, they will be responsible for appointing a solicitor to act on behalf of the child and give instructions. The only exception to this rule is if the child is capable of providing instructions themselves and their views conflict with those held by the representative. In this scenario the solicitor must take instructions directly from the child.
Care or Supervision Order
Both of these orders will have the same criteria, but the orders are different entirely. A Supervision Order allows the local authority to assume a certain degree of control over the child where there is a risk of harm but it is not serious enough to warrant a full care order.
If the Court decide that a Care Order should be issued, the parents of the child will not lose their parental responsibility. However the local authority will have a final say on how the parental responsibility can be exercised, but this will only be applied in situations that would protect the welfare of the child. Within the Care Order there is a statutory requirement that parents remain in contact with their child.
Where a Supervision Order is granted, there are no specific procedures in place in relation to enforcement and the Local Authority will not gain parental responsibility over the child. Supervision Orders can be made for a period of one year but it can be extended for as long as three years. The Court cannot impose any conditions when a Supervision Order is granted.
In terms of parental contact, the Court must take this into consideration before they grant an Order. The Local Authority may already have in place contact arrangements and these must be reviewed. After the child has been taken into care, the local authority must allow the parents reasonable contact with the child. Reasonable contact cannot be decided at the discretion of the local authority, it must be mutually agreed with the parents and the council.
The Care Order will be in place until the child reaches the age of 18 unless it is brought to an end before this time. A Care Order can be discharged by any person with parental responsibility following an application process. It can also be discharged by the child or the local authority. The same applies to a Supervision Order
Interim Supervision Order
There may be occasions when an interim order is required. Initial Interim Orders can last for a period of 8 weeks and orders after this can last up to 4 weeks. There are no restrictions on the numbers of interim care orders that can be made. An Interim Order may provide instructions in relation to psychiatric or medical examinations or other assessments or that no assessments are required. A child may be able to refuse to these examinations but this can be overridden by the court if necessary.
Ultimately, a care or supervision order is created to protect the welfare of the child when there is concern or actual evidence that the child is actually or is likely to suffer from significant harm.