Not every child who is ‘in the care’ of Children’s Services under a full Care Order is actually removed from the family home.
Some of these children remain with their parents (or have been returned there), even though parental responsibility is still shared with the Local Authority. The Social Workers can use their parental responsibility to seek to remove the children again and do not even need to go to Court to do this. However, this does not mean that removal is inevitable – as some swift and urgent legal action can stop it in its tracks.
Local Authority Duties
Just because a Local Authority has parental responsibility for a child who is at home with their parents does not mean they can decide to remove that child without giving the decision serious consideration and a full assessment. The Courts have been very clear about what the Local Authority is expected to do, and in many cases Local Authority decision-making processes can be rushed or flawed, and therefore wrong. Parents can make application to the Family Court to discharge the care order, and that is the mechanism through which those flaws can be examined by a judge.
Steps to Take
If you are in this situation, seek legal advice immediately. The Local Authority can be warned not to remove the child(ren) whilst the parent makes an application to Court. If the Local Authority do not agree to halt the removal, an application can be made for a Human Rights Act injunction to protect the family from the removal. The Court will be minded to stop the removal unless the children’s welfare and safety require their immediate separation. This keeps things the same whilst the Court takes a careful look at the situation and examines the evidence.
Legal Aid is available for this sort of application. In an emergency, we can self-grant you Legal Aid so long as you show us enough evidence to prove that you will be eligible for funding when we make a full application.
This is only the procedure for children who have already been made subject to Care Orders. If there is no Care Order, then the Local Authority cannot remove your children without your consent or a Court order, and automatic legal aid will be available for parents and those with parental responsibility.
If you wish to discuss matters raised in this article, or any other issues related to Child Care, please contact Adam Smith on 01923 725013 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.