Discharge of Care Orders
- Is your child living in foster care under a Care Order?
- Have there been care proceedings and a Judge has made a decision that your child should remain in foster care long term?
- Have you made changes which mean that you are now in a better position to care for your child?
- Is your child expressing a wish to return home to your care? Is it now in the child’s best interests to return home?
In the initial care proceedings a Judge can make a final decision that a child be removed from your care and placed in foster care. This final Care Order, will remain in place until the child is 18 years old, or until discharged by a further order.
There are lots of situations where a parent finds at one stage in their lives they are unable to safely parent their child. However, it may be that since the initial care proceedings, you have made changes and you have addressed the problems that you were having in the initial court proceedings.
Alternatively you may have started to make changes and your child is expressing a strong desire to return to your care.
When a child is subject to a Care Order, there will be regular ‘Looked After Review’ meetings, which are convened by Children’s Services. As part of these meetings, the Local Authority has a duty to consider whether the child can return home to your care. If you have made sufficient changes, the Social Worker should undertake an updated ‘parenting assessment’ to consider if your child can return home.
You may feel that the Social Worker has not acknowledged the progress you have made. You may feel that when you are attending the meetings, the Social Worker is not willing to undertake an updated ‘parenting assessment’ on you.
In these circumstances, you may wish to take your case back to court and ask the Judge to discharge the Care Order. Where possible, children should be parented by their parents and family members. If you have had difficulties in the past, this does not mean you cannot care for your children in the future.
If you wish to apply to court for a discharge of a Care Order, the rules for legal aid are different from the original court proceedings. We can guide you through this to see whether you will qualify for legal aid.
Contact a member of our specialist Child Care Team on 01905 721600. They will be able to advise and guide you through the process in relation to discharging a care order and answer questions about whether your child can now be returned home to your care.