When children are in the care of a Local Authority, the authority is required to allow the child reasonable contact with his parents, guardian or special guardian and anyone with who was named in a child arrangements order as a person with whom a child was to live.
A local authority can withhold contact for up to seven days (without a Court order being in place), where satisfied that it is necessary to do so in order to safeguard or promote a child’s welfare and the refusal of contact is a matter of urgency. If the Local Authority wishes to withhold contact for any longer, it must seek permission from the Court. Where there are ongoing care proceedings, it is only in very unusual circumstances that the Court will say that there should be no contact at all between a parent and child.
If you are a parent (or special guardian or had a child arrangements order for a child to live with you) and you are not satisfied with the Local Authority’s arrangements for contact, you can invite the Court to make an order as to the level of contact to be allowed.
If you are not a parent or special guardian, you need permission from the Court to make an application for a contact order where a child is in care. In considering whether to give you permission, the Court will consider:
The nature of the contact sought;
Your connection to the child concerned;
The risk of the child’s life being disrupted by the proposed application to such an extent the child would be harmed by it; and
The wishes of the parents and the Local Authority.
Contact between a child and their family will be assumed to be beneficial – and in many cases it is possible to negotiate arrangements with the Local Authority without needing to make an application to Court. Do ask us – we regularly support family members to negotiate with the Local Authority and represent them in applications before the Court.
If you are having contact with a child who is in care, this is likely to be supervised by Family Services (social services) and may be assessed if you are asking to have the child placed with you.
Downloadour hints and tips about contact with children in care.
Contact our Child Arrangements with children in care solicitors in Wakefield on 01924 332395.