In circumstances where a local authority raises concerns about your care of your child they may:
- make a Section 47 referral to investigate the concerns;
- convene a child protection case conference;
- apply to the Court for an Emergency Protection Order. The local authority will seek an order from the Court allowing them to remove your child from your care and place it into local authority care;
- apply to the Court for a Care Order or Interim Care Order.
In some circumstances, the police can apply for an Emergency Police Protection Order and in other situations you may be asked to place your child into voluntary care (section 20 of the Children Act 1989).
The local authority should only make such applications where there is a significant risk of harm or a likelihood of harm attributable to the care given by the care giver of the child. This is known as the Threshold Criteria.
The Court will ask the local authority to show that the threshold has been reached before it will make an order. It is very distressing for a child to be taken into care of the local authority, and is equally distressing for the parent. It is not the type of order a Court will make lightly and the Local Authority should have to produce cogent evidence before a Court will make such an order and in the early stages try to work with the parent or guardian and will put them on notice that they intend to issue Court proceedings to remove a child from the parents’ care.
It is essential that, as soon as the local authority become involved with your family, you should seek legal advice and assistance.