If concerns have been raised about the welfare of your children, the council will have informed you that it has begun ‘care proceedings’. You may be shocked at the news and uncertain as to how to continue. However, if you agree that you are unable to care for your child the council will then take control of your child’s welfare. This will include decisions about who cares for them, their housing situation and their education. Your child may be placed into foster care, in a children’s home, adopted or cared for by another family member.
When ‘care proceedings’ are commenced this means that a court is going to decide whether or not your child should be taken into care. In some cases your child may be placed in temporary care whilst the court makes a decision. The initial temporary care period will be of 8 weeks and then will be able to be renewed every 4 weeks should it be deemed unsafe for the child to be at home with you. The court will have to approve an ‘interim care order’ for your child to be taken into temporary care. Your child cannot be taken away from you without this order or your agreement.
Information will be gathered over an extended period of time to establish clearly the situation your child is in. Interviews will be conducted with a range of people who are close to the child, including yourself and your children. Ensure you attend all interviews organised between yourself and your social worker. It may be detrimental to your case if you fail to attend important meetings. You will also be provided support, as this is likely to be an extremely difficult time for yourself, especially if you do not believe your children to be at risk.
After all the relevant research into the situation has been done, reports will be submitted and a court hearing will commence. You will need to instruct a lawyer and attend this court hearing. If you children are in a safe environment your children should not be taken away from you. Your lawyer will support you in ensuring your children are not removed from your care and can support you in trying to get a ‘care order’ lifted by the court to have your children returned to your care if they have been placed elsewhere. A ‘care order’ will be issued by a court if they believe that a child needs to be taken into care. Children can be taken into care if they are deemed to be ‘at risk’ and will also be taken into care if they are believed to be suffering harm.