Established in 1982, at Brendan Fleming Solicitors we specialise in Family Law, offering our clients expert legal advice in both Public and Private Law matters, including Care Proceedings, Non-Accidental Injury, Divorce & Children’s Proceedings and issues with Social Services.

 

Contact Brendan Fleming Solicitors by emailing info@brendanfleming.co.uk or by calling 0800 246 5147

 

Contact our Non-Accidental Injury Department on 0800 246 5147 or 07730 143 432. If it is out of hours, you can call our staffed 24 hour helpline on 0121 683 5000. Alternatively you can email us on help@nonaccidentalinjury.co.uk

Our Location

165 Newhall Street
St. Paul’s Square
Birmingham B3 1SW

 

0800 246 5147

 

info@brendanfleming.co.uk

 

Every Child Matters

Every Child Matters  is a UK government initiative for England and Wales, that was launched in 2003 and represented the government’s recognition of the value of investing in prevention and early intervention.

 

Its scope covers children and young adults up to the age of 19, or 24 for those with disabilities.

 

The initiative was very well received by those organizations that work with children and has been described as a “sea change” to the children and families agenda. Lisa Payne, principal policy officer for the National Children’s Bureau, said of it: “The ambitions were amazing, the investment was unprecedented, and the prioritisation of children unmatched in my memory.”

 

Helen Dent, chief executive of Family Action, said the initiative made very positive moves toward a more “joined-up thinking about child wellbeing”.

 

It has been hailed as one of the 21st century’s most important policy initiative and development programmes in relation to children and children’s services.

 

Enforced by the Children Act 2004, Every Child Matters took a radically new approach to improving the wellbeing of children from birth. It was designed to end the disjointed services that failed to protect eight-year-old Victoria Climbié, and aimed to achieve better outcomes for all children by making organisations that provide services to children work better together.

 

Its main aims are for every child, whatever their background or circumstances, to have the support they need to:

 

  • Be healthy
  • Stay safe
  • Enjoy and achieve
  • Make a positive contribution
  • Achieve economic well-being

 

A helpful acronym to remember the 5 parts is SHEEP – Every child shall be: Safe, Healthy, Enjoy/Achieve, Economic, Positive contribution.

 

Each of these aims is subject to a detailed framework whereby multi-agency partnerships work together to achieve the objectives of the initiative.

 

The agencies in partnership may include children’s centres, early years, schools, children’s social work services, primary and secondary health services, playwork, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health services.

 

Criticism has been raised in the past that professionals have failed to understand each other’s roles or to work together effectively in a multi-disciplinary manner. This has resulted in a sub-standard level of service for children and families.

 

It is one of the primary objectives of Every Child Matters to change this, stressing the importance of all professionals working with children being aware of the contribution that could be made by their own and each other’s service and to plan and deliver their work with children and young people accordingly.

I am worried Social Services will take my child, what do I do?

Social services/ children’s services are also known as the local authority in these cases. If the local authority has reason to believe your child/ren are not safe in your home, please contact us on 0121 683 5000.  We appreciate it is a stressful situation to find yourself in, but our staff are very experienced in this area of law. We will help you understand your legal position and advise you of the steps you can take to prevent the local authority from removing your child/ren.

Will I need to pay?

If you are a biological parent of the child concerned, or if you have parental responsibility, then you will receive legal aid whatever your financial circumstances, and you will pay nothing for representation in Special Children Act proceedings (this does not cover appeals of final orders.) Other people involved may be entitled to legal aid but this depends on their financial situation, and the reasons for their involvement.

How long will the court proceedings last for?

Cases of this kind should be concluded within 26 weeks in accordance with the Public Law Outline (PLO) but there are some exceptional circumstances when they go on for longer.  Permission of the court needs to be gained if proceedings are not able to be concluded within 26 weeks.

What are interim orders?

These are temporary orders. The judge will decide how long they should last for which can be up to the final hearing or until further order of the court. They are often put in place while assessments/ investigations are being completed and decisions are being made about what will happen in the longer term.

What is an Interim Care Order (ICO)?

This is a temporary care order which gives the local authority parental responsibility for a child/ren which they then share with the biological parents or those who have parental responsible for a child/ren. This means the local authority can decide things which relate to the child/ren whilst the court proceedings are continuing, this includes where a child should live.  The local authority should consult all those with parental responsibility and keep them fully up to date with information.

What needs to be proven for an interim care order to be made?

There needs to be reasonable grounds to believe that the child is suffering significant harm, or would be likely to suffer significant harm if an order was not made. “Harm” can be physical, emotional or sexual harm and this also covers cases of neglect. The harm, or likelihood of harm, has to be as a result of the child/ren receiving an inadequate level of care, or as a result of the child being beyond parental control.  If the court finds that the grounds are met for an interim care order the court should only make an order if it is also satisfied that it is in the child’s best interests and that it is proportionate in the circumstances.

Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) has been mentioned to me, what is this?

Some areas have family drug and alcohol courts, if you live in an area which has this program your case may be allocated to that court if the main concerns of the local authority are drugs and/or alcohol.  We are able to represent you in these cases also but there are some hearings where lawyers do not attend and you meet separately with the judge to review progress.

Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) has been mentioned to me, what is this?

Some areas have family drug and alcohol courts, if you live in an area which has this program your case may be allocated to that court if the main concerns of the local authority are drugs and/or alcohol.  We are able to represent you in these cases also but there are some hearings where lawyers do not attend and you meet separately with the judge to review progress.

How will I have my say in Court?

We represent you to ensure that your voice is heard. You will have the opportunity to get your views across through us representing you and the submissions we make on your behalf and in written statements which will be filed to the court. You should also be given the opportunity to discuss your views with the social worker, the children’s guardian and anyone else who is preparing a report for the court.  You may also need to give oral evidence which is when you will speak directly to the court and you will be asked questions from all of the legal representatives of the parties.

How are my children’s views known?

In every case the child concerned is separately represented by his/her own solicitor. The solicitor is assisted by the “children’s guardian”, an independent person with expertise in advising the court about what will be in a child’s best interests. The children guardian is independent of the local authority and is appointed by the court.

The Police have taken my children, are they able to do that?

In urgent situations when the police feel children’s safety needs immediate protection and there is not enough time to take the matter to court the police are able to use their police powers to protect the children for up to 72 hours, this will normally result in the children being placed in local authority foster care. The local authority will need to apply to the court if they intend to keep the children from returning home or seek the consent of those with parental responsibility to continue to accommodate the children until assessments/ investigations are completed and a decision made.

What is an Emergency Protection Order(EPO)?

This is an order which can be made in emergency situations where the risk of harm is imminent. These orders are obtained from the court to ensure the short term safety of a child/ren. The court will only make the order if they are satisfied that there is reasonable cause to believe that the child is likely to suffer significant harm if:

1) he is not removed to accommodation provided by the local authority or
2) he does not remain in the place where he is currently being accommodated e.g. in hospital.

In exceptional circumstances a local authority can apply for an EPO without notice to the parents. Protection orders can last for 8 days but the local authority can apply to the court to extend these orders for a further 7 days.

Contact Us In Confidence

Arrange a consultation – 0800 246 5147. Or email us at info@brendanfleming.co.uk