Children Act - Order (Public Law)

Care and Supervision Orders

The Court can only make a Care Order or a Supervision Order if it is satisfied that:

  • the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm and
  • the harm or likelihood of harm is attributable to the care given to the child, or likely to be given if the Order were not made, not being what would be reasonably expected of a parent;
  • or the child is beyond parental control.

Care Order

A Care Order (under Section 31(1)(a) of the Children Act) places the child in the care of the Local Authority, with parental responsibility being shared between the parents and the Local Authority.

The Court will expect to be informed by the Local Authority of what plans there are for a child and be satisfied that the Care Order is in the child's best interests.

A Care Order can last until a young person is 18 years old; or until an Adoption, Supervision Special Guardianship  or Residence Order is made; or until the Court decides that the Order is no longer necessary. The Local Authority, or persons with parental responsibility for the child, can apply for the discharge of the Order.

Interim Care Orders

The court may make an Interim Care Order (for up to eight weeks in the first instance) where, in an application for a Care Order, the proceedings are adjourned or where a court in any proceedings gives a direction for the investigation of a child's home circumstances.

Supervision Order

This places a child or young person under the supervision of the Local Authority or a Probation Officer, who are required to advise, help and befriend the child.

The Order can only be for one year in the first instance, but the Supervisor can apply for this to be extended although it must not be for more than three years in all, and not after the person is 18 years old.

A Supervision Order may have conditions. For example, that the child should have a medical or psychiatric examination or treatment. It may also say that the child should take part in particular activities at specified times.

The Order can be stopped if any interested parties apply to the Court and the Court agrees, or if a Care Order is made.

Accommodation - Section 20

Some children are looked after by the Local Authority by agreement with, or at the request of, their parents. Under Section 20 of the Children Act, it is the duty of all Local Authorities to make accommodation available for such children in need. Children may be accommodated (in residential or foster care) for a short or longer period. No court proceedings are involved, and the parents retain full parental responsibility.

Section 8 Orders - Under the Act all efforts should be made to resolve problems voluntarily and court orders should only be sought if they will be of positive benefit to the child. Section 8 of the Act details the following Orders:

  • Residence Orders - May be made by the Court because there has been a dispute about the child’s residence, or because there has been a question about the child's welfare, which has required an Order to be made. Anyone named in a Residence Order as living with the child and caring for them, obtains parental responsibility for them with the making of the Order (Section 12) but they lose it once the Order ends.

  • Contact Orders – It should be noted that it is the child's right to have contact with their parents and not the parents` right. Contact Orders define the arrangements for a child having contact with the person named on the Order. Although usually a parent, contact can also be granted to grandparents or siblings.

  • Prohibited Steps Orders - restrict parental responsibility. Prohibited Steps Orders prevent the taking of an action that would otherwise be quite reasonably exercised by someone with parental responsibility. For example, if the parent who has the care of a child is concerned that the other parent may seek to abduct or harm the child they may obtain one of these Orders to prohibit the 'absent' parent from having any contact with the child except by prior arrangement and under supervision.

  • Specific Issue Orders – resolve particular areas of disagreement relating to the exercise of parental responsibility.

Importantly, Local Authorities cannot apply for or be granted Section 8 Orders; they are private law Orders that would normally be used in family disputes.