The Care Proceedings Process: An Overview
If your local authority is concerned that your child is not being looked after properly and are thinking about whether to ask a court if your child should be taken into care, what is the exact legal process that they will be required to follow?
Local authorities send a letter before court proceedings when they are worried about how a child is being looked after. It is often sent after the local authority has drawn up a plan for your child to be kept safe and well cared for but they are still concerned. The letter is a final notice for parents. If you don’t follow its instructions, you may have to go to court and your child could be taken into care.
The letter asks you to come to a pre-proceedings meeting with your local authority to talk about the situation. At the meeting, you will talk about how to change the way you look after your child and how the local authority can support you to do this. If you agree some changes, these will be written down in a formal agreement that you and the local authority have to follow. If you don’t agree, your local authority will probably ask the court to take your child into care.
You must keep to any agreement you make at the pre-proceedings meeting and the local authority should keep to any agreements they make too. You will probably be asked to go to review meetings to check you are keeping to the agreement.
If you don’t keep to the agreement or there are still serious or new concerns, your local authority will apply to a court to start care proceedings. You will have to go to court – possibly several times until the court makes its decision about your child’s future.
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