#ASKPICASSO - Care Proceedings Q&A

Hi Everyone,


We've decided that every week, we're going to answer your most burning legal questions about several topics that you can see in the graphic. We're calling it #ASKPICASSO (we know, imaginative right) anyway, this week we're focussing on Care proceedings, so see our answers to your most common queries below!


Q1) What are Care proceedings?


A)    Care proceedings are when Children’s Services address the court regarding your child/children’s living situation and safety in your home. This will be carried out by your child’s social worker if they are concerned about your child’s safety.


Q2) What will trigger a concern for the local authority and Children’s Services to consider moving forward with Care proceedings?


A)    The two main triggers are abuse or neglect. Abusing a child includes physical abuse, sexual abuse or emotional abuse. Neglect of a child includes not giving a child enough food or drink, not keeping your child clean or not taking your child to the doctor when necessary.


Q3) How long do Care proceedings last?  


A)    Care proceedings typically take around 6 months to conclude. In this time, authorities will be working to understand your child’s situation and determine their safety in your home.


Q4) What is an Initial Assessment?


If Social Services have been given a referral, they must conduct an initial assessment. This is where they will come to your home and make a decision regarding the safety of your child.

If the child is perfectly fine and safe, they will close their file and end all involvement.

But if they believe your child is sustaining or is at risk of sustaining some harm, they have 2 options:

1.     They could decide to offer the family some help and assistance or,

2.     They could decide to carry out a Single Assessment.

The decision of the Social Services is dependent on the extremity of the case, and how understanding and willing to change the parents/ people caring for the children are.


Q5) What is a Single Assessment?

A Single Assessment is where Social Services have decided they need to look into the case in more detail, following an Initial Assessment. As such, the Single Assessment will inform them whether protection of the children is necessary, and they continue to investigate your ability to care for the children and about your family and home.

A Social Worker will speak to you and your partner as well as the child, visit the child’s home, speak to both your child’s Doctor and the hospital. Following this, Social Workers will contact their teachers at school. They may also speak to the Police to see if they have any information regarding yourself, your partner, or the child/children.

They will then decide whether or not they need to be concerned about the child and their safety, this will then be detailed in a written report.

The decisions that they could make are:

1.     They decide there is nothing to be concerned about and they end all involvement.

2.     They might be unsure and slightly concerned over the child’s safety and therefore decide that they need to keep an eye on the case to make sure that they get better, or

3.     They may decide to arrange a Child Protection Conference

Social Services will base their decision on how bad things are, and whether the people caring for the children are willing to work with them to change things.

Q6) What is a Child Protection Conference?

A)    Social Services will arrange this meeting with the intention of making plans with you regarding the necessary requirements and changes that need to be made in order to protect the child.

People who can be at this meeting:

1.     The person caring for the children i.e. parents, foster carers, step-parents, relatives,

2.     The children, if they are old enough and want to,

3.     The children’s social worker,

4.     Doctors or Nurses or Health Visitors,

5.     Probation Workers,

6.     Teachers

7.     The Police

At the meeting, there will be Chairperson who is in charge. They will start the meeting and take note of what everyone is saying. The notes will be called the “minutes of the meeting” and they will be sent to everyone who was present at the meeting. All of the people present at the meeting will look at the minutes of the meeting and will plan on what needs to be done to keep the children safe.

At times during the meeting, it may feel difficult to take, as they discuss your circumstances and the child’s safety, you may feel that they are insinuating that you are a bad parent and not considering any of the positive things that you do.

However, this is not entirely the case, the only reason they will be focussing on the negative things that occur is because they are what worries them the most, this could be difficult for you to hear.

They could decide:

1.     To make a Child Protection Plan, and consider whether to

2.     Start the pre-proceedings Public Law Outline process (PLO) or Court Proceedings

A Child Protection Plan is a document that will tell everyone at the meeting:

1.     What type of harm the children are exposed to,

2.     What needs to be done to improve the circumstances,

3.     Who needs to administer these changes,

4.     When it is to be done,

5.     Any help or assistance you might need, and

6.     What will happen if things do not get better.

The Child Protection Plan will be looked at every three months and then revisited every six months after that. The reviews will consider what has happened since the last time and consider whether the plan is working or if new measures need to take place.

If things do get better and the children are no longer considered to be ‘at risk’ then the children could be taken off the plan and they will decide whether they need to continue to be involved with the family and monitor proceedings or whether the file can be closed.

If things do not get better or do not change at a suitable speed, they could decide to consider legal proceedings.

If you require any support or assistance with your case, please get in touch!

Thank you.