The Threshold Criteria under the Children’s Act 1989
S31(2)Children’s Act 1989 states that a court may only issue a care or supervision order if the court is satisfied that:
- The child concerned is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm and that harm or likelihood of harm is as a result of the care given to the child if the order were not made it his favour, and/or the child being beyond parental control.
- The courts cannot issue an order in respect of a child who has reached the age of seventeen, or sixteen if the child is married.
- An application for a care or supervision order may be made on its own or alongside any other family proceedings.
Care order proceedings: Care Plan
- When an order is made for the application of a care plan the appropriate local authority must, within the time frame set by the court, prepare a ‘care plan’ for the future care of the child.
What is Significant Harm?
- Significant harm in relation to family law proceedings means the ill-treatment or the impairment of the health or development .
- The development of the child refers to the physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development.
- Ill-treatment refers to any form of ill-treatment that is not physical, physical and sexual abuse.
The meaning of ‘Is Suffering’
- If at the time of the court hearing there are arrangements in place for the protection of the child by the local authority, the relevant date with respect to the court that must be satisfied is the date at which the local authority intervened to protect the child. If after the local authority has issued arrangements the need for the arrangements has run out, as the child’s welfare is sufficiently protected, the relevant date for the court to consider in relation to ‘is suffering’ is the date of the court hearing.
‘Likely to Suffer’
- Likely is used in the sense of a real possibility, a possibility that cannot sensibly be ignored having regard to the nature and gravity of the featured harm in the particular case in question. The more serious the allegation the less likely the event occurred and so the stronger the evidence needs to be to prove it did or did not occur.
Representation of the Child
- In the event if care or supervision proceedings the courts must appoint a representative , this is usually a CAFCASS officer (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services officer). The only time an officer will not be appointed is if the child’s interest and welfare can be safeguarded without an officer.
- The child’s representative must then appoint a solicitor to act on behalf of the child and give instruction on the child’s behalf, except where the child is capable of giving instructions themselves and their views conflict with those of the representative , when the solicitor must take instruction from the child.
The Effects of a Care or Supervision Order
- Although the two orders have the same threshold criteria, the two orders are completely different and a supervision order should not be seen as a watered down version of a care order.
For more information on:
- Care Orders
- Supervision Orders
- Contact In Care
- What is meant by ‘reasonable’ contact?
- Discharge of a care order
- Discharge and Variation of a Supervision Orders
- Interim care and Supervision Orders