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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Care Proceedings Advice London

New figures from the Ministry of Justice reveal a one percent decrease in the number of children involved in public law applications in the second quarter of this year.

The figures concern actions brought by local authorities or an authorised person in order to protect children. Such cases can cover a number of different orders, including a care or supervision order, or an emergency protection order.

The number of children involved in public law applications made by local authorities jumped in 2009 from around 20,000 per year to almost 26,000 per year following the publicity surrounding the Baby P case. Since then the numbers continued to increase through to early 2012, but have this quarter shown a small decrease.

According to the statistics, in the period between April and June this year 7,032 children were involved in public law applications – down one percent from the equivalent period in 2011, when 7,114 children were involved. The number of applications made, which can cover more than one child, also fell slightly to 4,101 from 4,149 in the second quarter of 2011.

The number of children involved in private law applications, which generally follow a breakdown in their parents’ relationship, actually increased in the second quarter of this year – up 14% to 27,204.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

 

Involving children’s guardians in vulnerable families may avoid the need for care proceedings according to a pilot study from Lancaster University and the University of Bradford.

Stage One of the pilot identified a number of benefits in regard to the Children’s Guardian becoming involved in pre-proceedings.

Applications to take children into care are at record levels, with 10,199 new applications recorded during the last year by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.

In addition, the family courts report extensive delays for children, with case duration now hitting 60 weeks in many cases.

The pilot study, listed in the Family Justice Review and Government response to that review, examined whether earlier involvement of the Children’s Guardian might ensure more cases are prevented from going to court, or where cases go to court, that they are resolved more quickly.

Researchers are following care proceedings in a sample of 27 cases and 30 comparator cases. Stage One has identified positive impacts in regard to the engagement of parents in a number of cases, with some cases now successfully diverted from court. In other cases, discussions between the local authority and the guardian may have narrowed the issues which will come before the court if care proceedings are issued.

The report from the pilot project will go to the Ministry of Justice and the project will now be extended to Liverpool.

Ofsted has recently published a report into the causes of delay in the adoption system. The report find that the most significant cause of delay for children needing adoption is the length of time it takes for cases to be completed in court. The average time taken to complete care proceedings in the cases inspectors examined was almost 14 months.

Not intervening early enough, and cases being left to ‘drift’ prior to care proceedings, were also key factors that hindered successful adoption in the cases reviewed. The report found that some children had been known to children’s social care for a considerable length of time prior to care proceedings being initiated.

Typically, these cases were characterised by long-standing concerns about either neglect or emotional abuse, or both. Delays jeopardised good outcomes for children. The children were older when they entered care, and their life experiences had resulted in some significant behavioural challenges for potential adopters.

The report also found many good examples of practice where local authorities worked to minimise delays. Overall, there was good parallel planning when children were taken into care or about to be placed for adoption. Most of the cases tracked showed a clear commitment to early planning for adoption at the same time as rehabilitation was being pursued. This ensured that if children could not go back to their birth family then the process for adoption was already in place.

Of those adopters that were interviewed, the majority were happy with the overall service that they received. Most did not feel that they had experienced significant delay, although nearly all considered that there had been some kind of delay, however minor. Nearly all adopters felt they had received a welcoming and sensitive response when they first enquired about adoption, and that assessment was necessarily thorough.

The report found that processes for matching children with adoptive placements were generally robust and of the authorities surveyed, there was little evidence of delay caused by an unrealistic search for a ‘perfect’ ethnic match.

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