Child Care Terminology

Part 1



Accommodated children – Parents may agree to having their child removed or ‘accommodated’ by Children’s Services under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, while an investigation and assessment is carried out.

Adjournment – Postponing a court hearing authorised by the Judge.

Adoption – A legal process by which a child becomes a permanent and full member of a new family. The biological parents lose Parental Responsibility and the new parents obtain Parental Responsibility for the child.

Advocate – The role of an advocate is to: Make sure a young person can make their wishes and feelings known, attend decision making meetings on behalf of, or with the young person, provide unbiased information to the young person, support the young person, make sure that the young person’s legal rights are upheld and that they are fairly treated, and help the young person to make a complaint if they wish to do so.

Advocate’s meeting – A meeting of lawyers required by the Public Law Outline to be held prior to a case management conference and issues resolutions hearing.

The purpose of the meeting is to identify and narrow the issues in the case and prepare for the next hearing.

Applicant – The applicant is the person applying to court for the order.

Assessment – A complex and skilled process of gathering together and evaluating information about a child, their family and their circumstances.   Its purpose is to determine children’s needs in order to plan for their immediate and long term care and decide what services and resources must be provided.   Child care assessments are usually co-ordinated by Social Services, but depend upon teamwork with other agencies (such as educational and health).

Barrister – Barristers are legal professionals who specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings, and giving expert legal opinions

Brief – A summary of facts and instructions given to barristers prior to a hearing.

Bundle – An information pack containing all of the relevant information and evidence to the case which is referred to during proceedings. It includes documents from both parties including position statements, exhibits and reports.

Cafcass – CAFCASS is the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. They are an organisation who provides specialist social workers who are experienced at dealing with family problems. They carry out safeguarding checks and can prepare a report dealing with the best interests of the child(ren) involved in court proceedings.

Care order – Where a child is at risk of significant harm and a parent cannot meet the child’s needs, the Local Authority can apply for a Care Order to acquire Parental Responsibility for the child. An n interim Care Order can be made to place the child in Local Authority care whilst other investigations are made.

Care proceedings – The council can start ‘care proceedings’ if they’re very worried about a child.They can apply for a ‘care order’ which means the council will have parental responsibility for your child and can determine where your child can live.

They can apply for a ‘placement order’ as well if they believe that the child should be adopted. This allows the council to place the child with suitable adopters.

It can take up to 26 weeks for a court to decide what should happen to the child. Some complex cases can take longer.

During this time a social worker, an officer from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) and other people will be trying to understand the reasons why the child may be at risk. They will also look at what can be done to keep them safe.

They will talk to the parents and the child. They may talk to other family members or friends about looking after the child if they can’t safely live at home. The parents might also get support.

Case management conference – The main Case Management Hearing of a public law case where court identifies issues and gives full case management directions.

Child in need – Under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, Local Authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area if they are in need. A child is in need when they are disabled or they are unlikely to achieve a reasonable standard of health or development or if a child’s health or development is likely to be significantly impaired if services are not offered to him or her.

Child protection – The actions and measures taken to protect a child from abuse or ill-treatment.

Child protection conference – A conference used to establish whether the child should be referred to as a ‘child subject to a child protection plan’ and to decide whether future action is required to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare. It should include relevant family members, the child (where appropriate) and supporters, advocates and relevant professionals.

Child protection planFor all those children who have been identified at a Child Protection Conference as being at a continuing risk of significant harm, a Child Protection Plan will be created. This is a plan setting out what steps and provisions are needed to safeguard a child’s welfare and minimize all risks of harm to a child.

Child protection register – In April 2008, the Child Protection Register (CPR) ceased to exist. The term now used is ‘children subject to a Child Protection Plan’.

Children’s guardian – A person appointed by the court in specified public law proceedings to safeguard the interests of the child.  This includes giving appropriate advice to the child, giving instructions to the child’s solicitor and advising the court of matters such as the wishes of the child and the options available to the court.

Children’s services – The body responsible for carrying out the child protection functions of the Local Authority, used to be known as Social Services.

Clare’s law – Also known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme. An individual has a right to ask the police whether a current partner represents a risk of violence.

Complaints – If your child is in care and you’re unhappy about their treatment, you can make a complaint. Talk to your child’s carer or social worker first and if you’re not happy, you can complain to your council.