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29 Care Proceedings

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1 Introduction

2. Who can make decisions about my child's care?

3. Why would social services get involved in my child's care?

4. What happens when social services start care proceedings?

5. What happens at the first hearing?

6. What orders can the court make at the first hearing?

7. Who will represent my child during proceedings?

8. What happens after an interim order is made?

9. How do I prepare for the final hearing?

Your solicitor will receive copies of all the statements and reports filed during the case and also a copy of the local authority’s care plan, which sets out its plans for how your child should be cared for in the long term. It is important to read all these papers and talk to your solicitor about them. You should ask your solicitor to explain anything that is not clear.

If English is not your first language, you can ask for a written translation or use an interpreter to help you. If you are disabled, your solicitor should arrange for you to get help, if you need it, to understand what is in the statements. This help could be, for example, having an advocate or large-print text.

The court will ask you to make a statement too. You can also ask family members or friends to make a statement and come to court as witnesses if you think they have information about your child, or if they are willing to care for them if the court says you cannot.

Sometimes the court thinks that a professional who has expert knowledge about children should provide information. This means you may be asked to:

  • attend a family centre with your child for an assessment; or
  • go to appointments at a hospital to see a specialist.

Your solicitor can ask the court for permission to get a specialist to help with your case. Any specialists should make a report to the court. You will see any reports and your solicitor will help you go through them.

Sometimes your solicitor will talk to you about whether to give the court information about your health. Your GP or other health professional can give the court information about you only if you agree. If you allow them to give a report to the court, then social services, the guardian and their legal advisers, as well as the court, will see the report.

Working with your solicitor

You can help your solicitor and yourself by doing the following:

  • Have a folder or a special place at home where you keep all the information about the case, like notices from the court and letters from the social worker or your solicitor.
  • Have a book to keep a note of telephone calls, conversations or meetings that you have with social services and any other professionals involved with the case. Include the date and a brief note of what was said.
  • Keep your own notes about what happened at a contact visit or session at the family centre.
  • Always let your solicitor know about letters, special appointments or conversations with social services, including changes to arrangements, such as arrangements for you to see your child.
  • Before you go to a meeting, see your solicitor or go to court, make a note of the important things that you want to say or ask. 
  • If you have agreed to see a specialist, talk to your solicitor about what you can expect to happen at this meeting. If English is not your first language, check that social services have arranged an interpreter for the meeting.
  • Try to get to court at least half an hour before the time of the hearing so you can talk with your solicitor and take part in any discussions that take place before the court hearing starts. Wear tidy, comfortable clothes to court.

Social services should help you with transport to get to meetings and special appointments, if you need it.

If you have a problem getting around, or some other disability, talk to your solicitor to make sure that all meetings and visits are at a suitable place.

It is very important that you work closely with your solicitor and any other professionals involved throughout the proceedings. It is also very important that you go to court. If you don’t, the court may be forced to make the order without taking into account your views.

 

10. What happens at the final hearing?

11. How does the court make its decision?

12. What types of order can the court make?

13. How long does a care order last?

14. How can I apply to end a care order?

15. Further help

16. About this leaflet







The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.




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