Listed below are the main orders that the court can make about children in public law cases (cases involving social services), with a brief explanation & links to some other websites and articles, and then gradually add posts dealing with each of the orders and link them from this post. Orders in private law cases (cases between family members) are dealt with in a separate post. Some cases start off as one type and end up as another. For example, the court may be dealing with a contact dispute and find out something very worrying about one of the parents and decide to bring in social services, who may make an application for a care order. Or care proceedings might be started by the local authority but end up with the court deciding that the child should live with parents or grandparents and making a residence order.
Care order (interim & final): An order that places a child in the care of the local authority. As a result of a care order the local authority acquires parental responsibility which in theory it shares with the parents. In practice it puts the local authority in the driving seat about any decisions to be made concerning the child’s future and where they should live. Generally but not always this will involve the child being placed away from his or her parents. A final care order can last until a child’s nineteenth birthday unless the court discharges prior to the child’s nineteenth birthday.
Supervision order (interim & final): A supervision order places a child under the supervision of local authority or a probation officer. This local authority does not acquire parental responsibility. The supervisor’s main duties are to advise assist and befriend the supervised child and to take such steps that are reasonably necessary to give effect to the order. A supervision order lasts for 1 year initially but can be extended for up to 3 years.
The main difference between the two orders is that when the local authority has parental responsibility under a care order, the local authority has the power to remove the child from the care of the parents (generally speaking they should only do so if the court has specifically approved removal or in an emergency) whereas the child cannot be removed from parents without their permission if a supervision order is in place. For more information on the difference between the two types of order see these case summaries .
Education supervision order: An education supervision order may be made under a 35 of the Children Act 1989 if a child of compulsory school age is not being properly educated. In practice these orders are rarely made although some local authorities make more use of them than others. The order places the child under the supervision of the local education order but does not grant them parental responsibility. One of the specific requirements that is usually ordered is that the parent shall ensure the child attends school and failure to comply with such a direction is a criminal offence for which a fine can be imposed.
Contact or no contact order: contact to a child in care is dealt with by s 34 of the Children Act 1989 . The local authority is in any event under a duty to promote reasonable contact between children in care and their parents or carers (whatever reasonable means and note there is no statutory duty to promote contact to other family members such as siblings or grandparents). The Act gives the court power to allow parents & other family members to ask for an order for contact and to the ban certain people from having contact altogether. Contact between children who are in care and their family members is often supervised.
Placement order: under s 21 of the Adoption & Children Act 2002 the court can make a placement order giving the local authority permission to place a child with potential adopters. These orders are often made just after care orders have been made, if the court thinks that the best plan for the child is adoption.
Secure accommodation order: under s 25 of the Children Act 1989 the court can place a child in secure accommodation if they have a history of absconding and are likely to suffer significant harm if not put in secure accommodation or if they might injure themselves or others unless they are placed in secure accommodation. A child under 13 can only be placed in secure accommodation with the specific approval of the Secretary of State.
Recovery order: a recovery order can be made under s 50 of the Children Act 1989 when a child is unlawfully removed from the care of a local authority. A recovery order allows the child to be removed from whoever has the child and requires anyone in a position to do so to produce the child and to give information about their whereabouts.