Guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children Includes the legislative requirements and expectations on services to promote the welfare of children A clear framework for LSCBs to monitor the effectiveness of local services Guidance is for LAs, LSCB, professionals from health services, adult services, police, education, voluntary and community sectors WORKING TOGETHER TO SAFEGUARD CHILDREN – MARCH 2013
Key Principles: Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility – for services to be effective, each professional & organisation should play their part Child-centred approach – for services to be effective, they should be based on a clear understanding of needs and views of children WORKING TOGETHER TO SAFEGUARD CHILDREN – MARCH 2013 (cont)
Information Sharing Effective sharing of information between agencies is essential for effective identification, assessment and service provision WORKING TOGETHER TO SAFEGUARD CHILDREN – MARCH 2013 (cont)
Care order (interim or final) – allows the Local Authority to share parental responsibility with parent(s) or anyone else holding PR for the child such as a grandparent Supervision order (interim or final) - provides for the Local Authority to ‘advise, assist and befriend the child’ WHAT PUBLIC LAW ORDERS CAN THE COURT MAKE?
Under s8 Children Act 1989 the Court can make the following orders: Child Arrangement orders (previously residence & contact orders) – to determine with whom a child should live & contact arrangements for a child Prohibited steps order – no specific step shall be taken without consent of court Specific Issue order – giving directions to determine a specific question which has arisen WHAT PRIVATE LAW ORDERS CAN THE COURT MAKE?
S31 (2) Children Act 1989 – A court may only make a care or supervision order if it is satisfied: (a) that the child concerned is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm and; (b) that the harm, or likelihood of harm is attributable to: (i) the care given to the child or likely to be given to him if the order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to given him or (ii) the child being beyond parental control LEGAL THRESHOLD FOR CARE/SUPERVISION ORDERS
Interim threshold (needed when seeking interim orders): S38(2) Children Act 1989 – a court shall not make an interim order unless it is satisfied that there are REASONABLE GROUNDS TO BELIEVE that the circumstances with respect to the child are as mentioned in s31(2) The Court must have sufficient information to evidence the above before making an order LEGAL THRESHOLD FOR CARE/SUPERVISION ORDERS (CONT)
Interim Removal of a Child from care of parents Re L A (Children) (2009) EWCA Civ 822 The test from this case is that the child’s safety must demand immediate separation Or in other words, the risk of the harm to the child if left in the placement must be greater than the harm they would suffer by being removed from that placement LEGAL THRESHOLD FOR CARE/SUPERVISION ORDERS (CONT)
Pilot has been underway in Leicester since July 2013 Formally implemented nationally in April 2014 Emphasis on ‘front loading’ work prior to court proceedings Likely to mean social workers are requesting reports from professionals involved with the family and other agencies earlier in the process, pre-proceedings – required to evidence the Local Authority case by way of primary evidence PUBLIC LAW OUTLINE 2014
Don’t make blanket statements which cannot be backed up by evidence Avoid standard phrases such as ‘concerning’ – detail is required, give specific examples Detailed information regarding involvement with the child/family Concise information only dealing with salient points Avoid including personal judgements/values WHAT MAKES A GOOD COURT REPORT?
Please refer to precedent statement Court Heading Details of your position, qualifications Involvement with the family – over what period of time?, how often have you had contact?, detail parent’s level of engagement with you/your service, details of discussions with other agencies, detail any concerns in your professional opinion SUGGESTED FORMAT OF A COURT STATEMENT/REPORT
Wherever possible, ensure the information is ‘first-hand’, written by the member of staff actively involved A Statement of Truth must be added at the end of a statement: “I declare that the information given is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and understand that it will be placed before the court and used as evidence” SUGGESTED FORMAT OF A COURT STATEMENT/REPORT (CONT)
Please be conscious that when providing a statement/report, there is always a possibility you will be called to give evidence Before giving evidence, ensure you have re-read your report and are fully aware of the contents Seek advice from your manager if necessary Legal will only be able to explain the court process and cannot guide you on what to say in evidence ATTENDING AT COURT – USEFUL TIPS