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Care Proceedings Glossary

This basic care proceedings glossary should help you to understand what is occurring in your case

Abuse and neglect: Child abuse can take four forms, all of which can cause long term damage to a child; physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and child sexual abuse.


Accommodation: Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 enables a local authority to provide accommodation for a child who has no person with parental responsibility for him/her, is lost or abandoned or whose parent cannot provide suitable accommodation and care.


Achieving Best Evidence Interview: An investigations interview with a child who is a witness to a crime. “Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings: Guidance for Vulnerable or Intimidated Witnesses” was issued jointly by key government departments led by the Home Office.


Allocated case: A case that has been made the responsibility of a named social worker or other key worker until such time as the case is closed, transferred or managed in such other way that the named worker no longer has responsibility for it.


Assessment: The assessment of developmental needs of a child within their family and wider environmental context to determine, if the child has needs and what services they require.


ASSET: A youth justice assessment tool comprising a main assessment, a serious harm risk assessment and a young person’s self assessment. It is used to assist in planning interventions and review progress and outcomes.


Care order: A court order under s.31 of the Children Act 1989 allowing the local authority to share parental responsibility, to protect the child from harm they are suffering or may suffer, whilst under the care of his/her parent or being beyond a parent’s control. A child may remain living with parents, a connected person or be placed in local authority care whilst being the subject to a care order.


Child: Anyone under 18 years of age.


Child in need: Section 17 (10) of the Children Act 1989 defines a child in need as a child who, without the provision of local authority services:


  • Is unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development;
  • Whose health or development is likely to be significantly impaired;
  • Or a child who is disabled.


Child protection: The process of protecting individual children identified as either suffering, or at risk of suffering, significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect.


Child protection enquiry: Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 gives children’s social care a duty to make enquiries to decide whether they should take action to safeguard or promote the welfare of a child who is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm.


Common Assessment Framework (CAF): The CAF is a standardised approach to conducting an assessment of a child’s additional needs and deciding how those needs should be met. It can be used by practitioners across children’s services in England. The CAF is intended to provide a simple process for a holistic assessment of a child’s needs and strengths, taking account of the role of parents, carers and environmental factors on their development.


Core Assessment: An assessment conducted by a social worker which addresses the central and most important aspects of the needs of the child and the capacity of their parents to respond to these needs. This has now been replaced with the ‘single assessment’.


CDOP Manager (Child Death Overview Panel Manager): Professional nominated by the chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Board to whom the death notification and other data on each unexpected child death should be sent.


Child Sexual Exploitation: Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of child abuse. It happens when a young person is encouraged, or forced, to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something.


Child in Need Plan/ meeting: this is a plan drawn up after a Singke Assessment which would have identifying the child’s individual needs, whereas the meeting will be a multi-agency meeting to devolve and form the Child in Need Plan.


Child Protection Plan/ Child Protection conference:   Is a plan or conference which involves family members and professionals involved with a child about his/her future safety, health and development.


Criminal Records Bureau (CRB): The CRB is an Executive Agency of the Home Office set up to help organisations make safer recruitment decisions. This has now been replaced with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).


Duty children’s social worker: Professional from the Children’s Social Care team that receives and responds to all child concern referrals – in office hours.


Emergency duty team: A social work team providing an out of hours social care service for the county.


Emergency Protection Order: A court order under s44 of the Children Act 1989 giving Children’s Social Care and the Police the power to protect a child from harm by removing the child to suitable accommodation or preventing a child from being removed (e.g. from hospital).


Enquiry checks: Checks made of agencies involved with a child for section 47 child protection investigation purposes.


Electronic Social Care Record (ESCR): Fully electronic case record.


First line manager: The manager with responsibility for supervising the frontline professional with case or immediate responsibility for the child, adult or family.


Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (often referred to as the Assessment Framework): The Assessment Framework is a systematic way for professionals to assess a child’s needs and whether s/he is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, what actions must be taken and which services would best meet the needs of the child and family. All professionals should be competent to contribute to an assessment, which is usually led by children’s social care under the Children Act 1989.


Gillick competence/Fraser Ruling: The competency test resided by Lord Fraser, 1985 (known as Gillick Competence), which laid down criteria for establishing whether a child, irrespective of age, had the capacity to provide valid consent to treatment (by health professionals) in specified circumstances. The solicitor for the child will be responsible for establishing whether a child is gillick competent.


Interim Care order (ICO): an interim order give the local authority parental responsibility respect of the subject child prior to any final determination of the case under s.38 Children Act 1989.


Impairment of health and development: Where professionals are seeking to judge whether a child’s health and development have been significantly harmed, the Children Act 1989 (s31 (10)) directs them to make a comparison with the health and development which could reasonably be expected of a similar child.


Initial Assessment: An initial assessment of the developmental needs of each child referred to the local authority with a request for services to be provided. This should be undertaken within the maximum of seven working days of the initial referral, but could be very brief depending on the child’s circumstances.


Integrated Children’s System (ICS): Case management system for case recording within Children’s Social Care. Introduced in 2008, this is a government sponsored system with national criteria for local software providers to adhere to. It ensures that there is consistency of practice across all social work teams, improves transparency and accountability.


Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO): They are the people who chair reviews for children in care.


Key worker: The key worker has an important role that involves administration, information, co-ordination and the professional management of a case. Their prime responsibility is to maintain a child protection focus to the work being undertaken with families and to maintain and co-ordinate the core group, who will ensure the progress of the child protection plan.


Lead professional: The practitioner who has the most ongoing contact with a child at the time and who is in a position to co-ordinate the professional network to support the child.


Local Safeguarding Children Board ( LSCB): Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCBs) are a statutory body established in each local authority area to ensure that organisations work together effectively to safeguard children and promote their welfare.


Looked After Child (LAC) Review: is sometimes know a Child in care (CIC) review and is the six monthly review that is held for those children who are the subject of ICO or CO.


Neglect: Neglect is the persistent lack of appropriate care of children, including love, stimulations, safety, nourishment, warmth, education and medical attention.


Network checks: Checks made of agencies for screening and for initial assessments – helps Children’s Social Care decide whether a section 47 investigation is required.


Nominated safeguarding children adviser: The person in each agency who has responsibility for child protection issues in that agency and provide child protection advice to front-line professionals.


Parent: Parent or carer.


Parental Responsibility: All the duties, rights, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property. A Care Order confers the responsibility to a local authority but it does not remove it from the child’s parents.


Public Law Outline (PLO): This is the process that the local authority follow to see if it is possible to reach agreement about what needs to happen to protect the child from harm, so that court proceedings can be avoided and then the court process and timeline if and once proceedings have commenced. Please click here to see the flowchart of this.


Police Powers of Protection (Section 46): Section 46 of the Children Act 1989 giving the police powers to protect a child from harm by removing the child to suitable accommodation or preventing a child from being removed (e.g. from hospital).


Private Fostering: An arrangement made directly by a parent for their child to be looked after for more than 27 days by an adult who does not have parental responsibility for the child and is not a close relative/step parent.


Referral: A request for services to be provided by a local authority. A case can become current only after a referral has been made.


Risk to child: Description of an adult or child who has been identified (by probation services / Youth Justice Service, Police or health services, individually or via the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements) as posing an ongoing risk to a child (replaces the term Schedule 1 Offender).


Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children:The process of:


  • Protecting children from maltreatment;
  • Preventing impairment of children’s health or development;
  • Ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care;
  • Undertaking that role so as to enable those children to have optimum life chances and to enter adulthood successfully.


Section 17: Section 17 of the Children’s Act 1989 imposes on every local authority a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the area who are in need.


Section 20/ s.20 agreement: s.20 is about a local authority (social services / childrens’ services) providing accommodation for children who do not have somewhere suitable to live. It is sometimes called ‘voluntary care’ or ‘voluntary accommodation’ because usually parents must agree to the child being accommodated.


S.20 ‘accommodation’ is not just housing. It is taking a child into the care system by agreement rather than by court order. The local authority is responsible for taking care of the child while they are in s.20 accommodation. This should only be used for short periods of time.


Section 47 Enquiry: Section 47 of the Children Act requires every local authority to make enquiries about children thought to be at risk, enabling them to decide whether they need to take further action to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare.


Senior Manager: Manager in any agency above first line manager.


Serious Case Review: Chapter 8 of Working Together to Safeguard Children sets out the purpose and process of serious case reviews (SCRs). SCRs are undertaken when a child dies or is seriously injured and abuse or neglect is known or suspected to be a factor in the death.


Significant Harm: the courts indicate that we should avoid seeking to explain the meaning of the word “significant”. However, the severity of the harm required is inversely correlated with the likelihood of the harm, i.e. the less likely the harm is to occur the more serious the harm will need to be.


Sometimes, a single traumatic event may constitute significant harm (e.g. a violent assault, suffocation or poisoning).


More often, significant harm is a compilation of significant events, both acute and longstanding, which interrupt, change or damage the child’s physical and psychological development. Some children live in family and social circumstances where their health and development are neglected. For them, it is the corrosiveness of long-term emotional, physical or sexual abuse that causes impairment to the extent of constituting significant harm. In each case, it is necessary to consider any maltreatment alongside the family’s strengths and supports.


Social Worker or Child’s Social Worker: Social work qualified professional with case responsibility.


Staff/staff member: Any individual working in a voluntary, employed, professional or unqualified capacity, including foster carers and approved adopters.


Well-being: The achievement of the best outcomes for children. That is, for every child to:


  • Be healthy;
  • Stay safe;
  • Enjoy and achieve;
  • Make a positive contribution;
  • Achieve economic well-being;
  • Not cause harm to others.


Working day: Timescales in these procedures relate to the working day i.e. from 09.00hrs to 17.00hrs on Monday to Friday, unless otherwise expressed (e.g. 24 hours).


Working Together: Working Together to Safeguard Children (2006) is a guidance document produced by the DCSF setting out how all agencies and professionals should work together to safeguard children and promote children’s welfare.


Our principal, Brendan Fleming, has won a reputation for his innovative approach, spearheading many new ways of securing justice for families caught in the care proceedings trap. He is a member of a select children’s panel and recognized and approved by the Law Society.


If you are facing care proceedings, are due to appear in family court and need a Care Proceedings Solicitor to help you, contact Brendan Fleming today.


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