Care Planning within Care Proceedings
Why do my children need a Care Plan?
When a child is made the subject of an Interim Care Order, the Local Authority has a duty to compile a Care Plan. This plan is shared with the child’s parents and sets out how the Local Authority will meet its legal obligation to provide a reasonable standard of care to the child.
A Care Plan must be compiled in all cases where the Local Authority has a Care Order. Regardless of whether a child is placed in foster care, a children’s home, within the wider family or with their parents.
What if I do not agree with the Care Plan for my child?
Within care proceedings, parents are ordinarily legally represented and can address issues with the Care Plan through their solicitor who will liaise with the other parties. The child’s guardian is likely to be particularly influential in addressing issues concerning the care delivered to the child. If matters cannot be resolved by agreement between the parties, the issues could be put before the court for guidance as to the care that should be delivered to the child.
The relationship between the court and the Local Authority is relatively complex when it comes to Care Planning. Within care proceedings, the court cannot dictate what care the Local Authority delivers to a child. Nor can it draft or dictate the Care Plan. The court’s focus is on the legal placement of the child and establishing whether or not the legal threshold for granting the Local Authority a Care Order is met.
Parents should be aware that with a Care Order in place, a Local Authority can amend and adapt the Care Plan without permission from the Court. So it is important that parents access legal representation for assistance. Their solicitor can then negotiate matters on their behalf outside of Court.
What can a parent do to prevent receiving unexpected changes to their child’s Care Plan within Care Proceedings:
- Ensure that they attend all ‘Looked After Child’ (LAC) reviews to stay fully informed of their child’s care and welfare.
- Work positively with the Local Authority; discuss the care that is delivered to their child and remain contactable.
- Ensure that they understand the current Care Plan for their child. Engage with, and discuss any issues with their solicitor whilst the matter is within Care Proceedings.
- Be part of the Care Planning process. Have their say at Local Authority meetings, particularly those where minutes are taken so that their opinions are recorded.
Please do get in touch if you need any further information or advice. You can also find more information on Family Law on the Family Page of our website.