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Advice for grandparent carers and kinship carers
Many grandparent or kinship carers have had no experience of social services or of the courts. Suddenly they find that the local authority has started proceedings for a care order in respect of their grandchild or the child they are caring for.
When do local authorities start care proceedings?
If Children’s Services thinks there is reasonable cause to believe that the child
- is suffering;
- or is likely to suffer significant harm;
- either because the care the child’s parents are giving him or her is not adequate;
- or because the child is out of the parents’ control,
then they can apply to the court for a care order to authorise the long term removal of the child from the parents’ care. [sections 31 and 38, Children Act 1989]
This enables a local authority to share parental responsibility with anyone else who already has parental responsibility. This is usually the parents.
A care order gives the local authority the power to make plans for the child’s future.
The local authority may make plans to provide accommodation for the child with alternative family carers or foster carers.
What should you do?
If you are caring for a child at the time the care proceedings are started or if you want to be assessed as a carer for a child you need to have expert advice. You should contact us immediately.
In some cases the local authority and even the court thinks there is no need for grandparent carers or kinship carers to be made parties to the care proceedings. This means that decisions may be made about the future of the child you are caring for without your voice being heard. This is all the more reason for you to seek our expert advice.
Some grandparents are not aware of proceedings until they are well underway. They hear then that the local authority are applying for a placement order
What is a placement order?
If a local authority regards that a child needs to be placed permanently with an alternative family, they may apply to the court for a placement order which then gives the local authority permission to place a child for adoption. [section 21, Adoption and Children Act 2002]
For more detailed information on Care Proceedings see www.frg.org.uk.