INTERIM CARE ORDER
If the Local Authority is involved with a family, and they have evidence to suggest that a child within the family is at risk of significant harm as a result of the care being provided by their parents, then they can apply to the Court to ask them to grant an Interim Care Order.
WHAT IS AN INTERIM CARE ORDER?
An Interim Care Order, like a Care Order, grants the Local Authority parental responsibility of a child. This means they are able to make decisions about the child's welfare and do not need the parents permission to so.
Decisions regarding welfare of a child range from where the child should live to how much contact the parents should have.
HERE TO HELP
When a parent receives notification that they are required to attend a pre-proceedings meeting, it is important that they have legal representation. This will also be highlighted in the pre-proceedings letter.
Failure to attend with representation could result in the meeting being rearranged for the parent to obtain legal representation.
Our solicitors are available to support you through these legal proceedings and can attend pre-proceedings meetings with you. They can also represent you at Court if the need arises.
Due to the importance of pre-proceedings, Legal Aid is available regardless of your financial circumstances. Therefore you are entitled to legal representation throughout the whole pro-proceedings process at no cost to yourself.
If you do receive a letter inviting you to attend a pre-proceedings meeting then it is vital that you obtain legal representation as soon as possible. Contact our Family Department on 01744 757877 or email
AT A PRE-PROCEEDINGS MEETING
If you have received a letter inviting you to attend a pre-proceedings meeting then by this stage the Local Authority would have already sought advice from their own solicitors as to whether they would be successful in obtaining a Care or Supervision Order if they were to take the matter to Court. That is why it is vital you have legal representation at the pre-proceedings meeting.
People present at the meeting will include the Social Worker, Local Authority Solicitor, Team Manager, the parent and their legal representative. If the family have a Support Worker then they can also be present.
Within the meeting, the Local Authority will express their concerns to the parent and set out the improvements the parent is to make and any assessments that need to be undertaken in the interim before the review pre-proceedings meeting. It will be made clear that if these improvements are not met then Court proceedings will be issued.
Improvements may include keeping the house clean and tidy and making sure it is a safe place for the child to live. This could include stopping certain visitors attending the house which may pose a threat to the child. Assessments could include a Cognitive Assessment if the Local Authority feel the parent lacks capacity to understand what improvements are being set out. The parent may also be asked to attend counselling to help address some of the issues they may be facing.
By the end of the meeting, the parent should have a clear understanding of what the Local Authority's concerns are and the improvements that need to be made. The Local Authority will set a review meeting within six to eight weeks so they can see what progress has been made but the Social Worker will continue to monitor the situation until the next meeting. If things are not improving and/or the child is at immediate risk of harm then Court proceedings could be issued at any stage and the Local Authority could ask for the child to be removed from the home and placed into Foster Care.