Care Proceedings

Sital approaches each case with a level of understanding only achievable through specialising in Child Care law. Whether involving social services, or a private law matter, it is important to be represented by someone who understands how the law may affect you and your family.

Sital advises and represents parents, other family members, children and Children’s Guardians in all public law proceedings. These include proceedings where the Local Authority has applied for Emergency Protection Orders, Care Orders or where parents apply for contact with children in care and discharge of Care Orders. Sital can also advise and assist where children are voluntarily accommodated and will attend Child Protection Conferences. Sital is there to support parents and provide them with advice and empower them during this difficult time.

Full public funding is usually granted to all parents and children involved in public law cases, regardless of financial means. If you are faced with an application made by the local authority, Sital will ensure that public funding is applied for on your behalf.

Sometimes, parents are unable to care for their children either permanently or temporarily – and in such cases, parents may approach Social Services to accommodate children.

Under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989, Local Authorities have a legal obligation to provide accommodation in certain circumstances, including:

  • If a child has been abandoned by their parents or is separated from their parents
  • If a child’s parents are temporarily or permanently unable to care for them
  • There is no adult with Parental Responsibility for a child.

In such cases, Social Services can step in and accommodate a child either in a residential care home or with foster parents.

A child’s parents or those with parental responsibility for a child must first give Social Services permission to arrange accommodation for their child. Parents will retain parental responsibility once their child has been found accommodation by the Local Authority.

Parents have the right to ask for their child to be returned, but in some circumstances Social Services might not comply with this request or might delay taking action to return a child to their parents. In these cases, disputes can easily arise over the care arrangements for a child who has been given accommodation under Section 20 as well as any contact parents have with their child once they have been placed in accommodation or with a foster family.

In some cases, Local Authorities may even consider putting children who have been voluntarily accommodated up for adoption.

It is advisable for parents considering asking the Local Authority to take their child into voluntary care to take legal advice before doing so.

Sital has extensive expertise in child care matters – including the issues around children taken into Local Authority care and children voluntarily accommodated.

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