Welcome to the parents Forum, I am Suzie, Family Right’s Group online adviser.
I can see that your children who have been in short term foster care since 2018, have recently been made subject to a full care order
. You ask what it means and whether your children could return home to you.
A care order lasts until children are 18. In fact, many children will return home before they are 18. Also, many children who do not return home to a parent will go and live with family or friends. This is because the law says local authorities need to consider placing children within the family and friend network before a placing with a non- related foster carer.
A care order gives the local authority parental responsibility to make decisions about your children. However, you as a parent, will also have parental responsibility, so you should also be consulted about decisions that are being made. This will mainly be at the LAC reviews. Please see information about the role of the independent reviewing officer
and how parents are consulted on page 17 onwards of the advice sheet 11.
As a parent, what can you do to work towards your children returning home?
This is a question you should ask your solicitor. He will know your case and could tell you what support or courses you need to do to make changes to have a chance of your children coming home in the future.
If there is a written copy of the judgment, get this as it will say why a care order is made so will guide you as to what you need to do to change. Read the guardians final report for the court and the statement of the social worker as well. If there is any expert report such as a psychologist, see what treatment they recommend for you.
The law says that for a parent to discharge a care order (get rid of a care order), they must wait at least 6 months from the date the order was made before going back to court.
The parent must then show 2 things:
• First, that there has been a change in circumstances (so if the cause was domestic violence, that the parent has completed courses and therapy and is no longer a risk).
• Second, the parent must show that it is in the best interests of the child to return home to the parent. The court would use the “welfare checklist” to help decide whether it was in the best interests of a child.
If you think that you have made the necessary changes, you need to ask the social worker for an assessment. You could ask for this at a LAC review. if this is refused or you believe that the assessment is wrong you can seek advice from your solicitor about going back to court.
It is important that you have contact with your children. What does the care plan say about contact? It might be reduced at some point to let your child settle in with long term foster carers but should be regular. You might be able to ask to increase contact and it may become unsupervised as your children get older, for example. Here is our advice sheet about contact with children in care
Look at page 10 about tips when negotiating with social workers.
Another thing you must try and do, is work as best you can with children services. This means going to LAC meetings and being as involved as much as you can.
Doing these things may mean you will have a greater chance of your children returning home.
I hope my advice helps but if you need further advice please post again or call our advice line on 0808 801 0366.