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29 Care Proceedings

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1. Introduction

2. Who can make decisions about my child´s care?

3. Why would the council get involved in my child’s care?

4. What if the council thinks my child is in immediate danger?

5. What should happen before the council decides to apply for a care order?

6. Can I get help to pay for a lawyer?

7. What happens when the council starts care proceedings?

8. Who will represent my child during proceedings?

9. What happens at the First Appointment?

10. What orders can the court make at the First Appointment?

11. What happens after an interim order is made?

12. How do I prepare for the final hearing?

Your solicitor will receive copies of all the statements and reports filed during the case and also a copy of the council’s care plan, which sets out its plans for how your child should be cared for in the long term. It is important to read all these papers and talk to your solicitor about them. You should ask your solicitor to explain anything that is not clear.

If English is not your first language, you can ask for a written translation or use an interpreter to help you. If you are disabled, your solicitor should arrange for you to get any help you need to understand what is in the statements, or to get large-print text.

The court will ask you to make a statement. You can also ask family members or friends to make a statement and come to court as witnesses if you think they have information about your child that will help. You should tell your solicitor as soon as you can whether there is someone who is willing to care for your child if the court says you cannot. This person will have to be assessed by the council before the final hearing. Again, if you have not already had an FGC before the case started in court, you could ask for one now if you think it would help.

Your solicitor may talk to you about whether to let the court have information about your health. Your GP or other health professional can give the court information about you only if you agree. If you allow them to give a report to the court, then the council, the guardian and their legal advisers, as well as the court, will see the report.

Working with your solicitor
You can help your solicitor and yourself by doing the following:

  • Have a folder or a special place at home where you keep all the information about the case, like notices from the court and letters from the social worker or your solicitor.
  • Have a book to keep a note of telephone calls, conversations or meetings that you have with social workers and any other professionals involved in the case. Include the date and a brief note of what was said.
  • Keep your own notes about what happened at a contact visit or assessment.
  • Always let your solicitor know about letters, special appointments or conversations with the council, including changes to arrangements, such as where and when you can see your child.
  • Tell your solicitor as early as possible in the proceedings about anyone in your family network who would be willing and able to care for your child if you are unable to.
  • Before you go to a meeting, see your solicitor or go to court, make a note of the important things that you want to say or ask.
  • If you have agreed to see an expert or specialist, talk to your solicitor about what you can expect to happen at this meeting. If English is not your first language, check that the council has arranged an interpreter for the meeting.
  • Try to get to court at least an hour before the time of the hearing so you can talk with your solicitor and take part in any discussions that take place before the court hearing starts. Wear tidy, comfortable clothes to court.

The local council should help you with transport to get to meetings, if you need it.

If you have a problem getting around, or some other disability, talk to your solicitor to make sure that all meetings and visits are at a suitable place.

It is very important that you work closely with your solicitor and any other professionals involved throughout the proceedings. It is also very important that you go to court. If you don’t, the court may have to make the order without taking into account your views.

13. What happens at the final hearing?

14. How does the court make its decision?

15. What types of order can the court make?

16. What must the council do after a care order is made?

17. How can I apply to end a care order?

18. Further help

19. About this leaflet

The leaflets in this series give you an outline of your legal rights. They are not a complete guide to the law and are not intended to be a guide to how the law will apply to you or to any specific situation. The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since this was written, so information in it may be incorrect or out of date.

If you have a problem, you will need to get more information or personal advice to work out the best way to solve it. See ‘Further help’ for sources of information and advice.

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Family Rights Group.

Leaflet Version: October 2008

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