Child Care Orders Under the Children (Jersey) Law 2002
Children’s Services are there to protect children and this is done through a number of different orders. An order is an instruction from the court that something should or should not be done.
The service’s main aim is to protect children while at the same time supporting the family as a whole. They can always be contacted for advice when dealing with cases involving child care.
There are many ways that the service can help a family to improve on their parenting skills and these will usually be offered before any decisions are taken. Removing children from parents’ care is always the last option, unless a child is at risk.
Reporting child care concerns
The Children’s Service may get information regarding
- Parents and relatives
- Teaching staff in schools
- Nursery staff
- Hospital staff
- Health visitors
- The Police
When a concern received, they will get as much information as possible about the family situation. A Children’s Service Officer will be given responsibility for the case and together with colleagues, make sure that the most suitable action is taken.
In serious cases, the caseworker will organise a family review by bringing together a range of people from all different areas. A Child Care Officer will be given to the family to help them and talk with other services. In this way, the family are given help so their views are taken into consideration at Case Conferences and they are able to help themselves as much as possible.
Reasons for taking children into care
The child must be under the age of seventeen, or sixteen if married or in a civil partnership.
The Court may only make an Order if it is satisfied that the child in question is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm or likelihood of harm because of the care given to the child, or likely to be given to them if the order was not made or not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give or the child is beyond their parents’ control.
Harm means ill-treatment or damage to health or development. In other words, the child is being treated badly or not getting the care and attention they need to grow and be healthy.
Development means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development.
Physical development might mean the child is not getting enough food to grow. Intellectual development might mean they are not being played with or spoken to so they can learn.
Emotional development means they are not getting the care and love they need to be a happy child.
Social or behavioural development could mean they are not being allowed to mix with other children or their behaviour is not being managed.
Health means physical or mental health.
Physical health means illnesses you can see like measles or chickenpox and mental illness means their mind and the way it works.
Ill-treatment includes abuse. This might mean tormenting, ignoring, shouting at or not behaving towards them in a caring or kind way.
Types of Order
Each order depends on how urgent the problem is and if there is a risk to the child. There are different actions that can be considered by the caseworker and team, involving the parents.
The types of Care Order available are:
- Emergency Protection Order
- Interim Care Order
- Care Order
- Child Assessment Order
- Supervision Order
Emergency Protection Order
This is an order when they think that any child under seventeen years to be at immediate serious risk.
A warrant is given by the Bailiff to a Child Care Officer which allows them to go into buildings and take the child to a place of safety.
The Order can be granted under Article 37 if it is reasonable to believe that the child is likely to suffer major harm if
- they are not removed to a place of safety
- they stay in the place where they are living.
An Emergency Protection Order lasts for 28 days and if they think it necessary, must go back to the Royal Court during this time to ask for a different Order. Parents may argue against this application.
The police have the power to remove a child to a place of safety without a Court Order for up to 72 hours.
Interim Care Order
This order is one that would be asked for by the Children’s Service on behalf of the Minister where they plan to apply for a Care Order.
The Court decides how long these orders should last and they can be renewed but they can only last for a total of 8 weeks from the start date of the first order. During this time, parents who wish to challenge the order should get legal advice and prepare their case, perhaps giving evidence of any efforts they are making to change a poor child care situation. Legal Aid may be available.
Under Article 24 the Children’s Service on behalf of the Minister may apply to the Royal Court for an Order placing children in care. They make all the decisions that a parent might make. The children may be placed in a home, with foster parents or with family. An Order can stay in force until the child is aged 19, unless the Court cancels it before then. The children could be allowed back to the parents if the situation improves and they are no longer worried there is a risk.
Child Assessment Order
This is an order under Article 36 of the Law which allows the Children’s Service to carry out a full review of a child’s condition, where the parents are unlikely to comply, but without the need to take the children from their care.
The service may apply when it
- thinks that the child is suffering or might suffer major harm,
- checks on the state of the child’s health or development or of the way in which they have been treated
- is needed for the Social Services Department to decide whether or not the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, major harm
- it is unlikely that the checks will be made, or be satisfactory, if the order is not made.
Under Article 17 of the Law there is a need for the Minister to make accommodation available for any child who appears to need as a result of –
- there being no-one who has parental responsibility for them
- them being lost or having been abandoned
- the person who has been caring for them is no longer giving them suitable accommodation or care.
This article does not take away any of the parent’s rights and the children involved are not thought to be in care, but looked after.
The parents of looked after children may have to put money towards their upkeep if they can afford it and this may be by Court Order if necessary. Parents must also keep the Children’s Service up to date with their address.
Where the service is looking after any children, it has a duty to:
- keep them safe and look after their health and safety
- keep parents involved in their care as much as possible.
In making any decisions with respect to the child, the service must try to find out the wishes and feelings of –
- the child
- the parents
- any person who is not a parent but has parental responsibility
- any other person whose views are thought to be relevant
The Court may feel it right for children to be placed under the supervision of the service. This may be where a situation is not thought bad enough to take the child from the care of their parents, but where it is felt that both the child and the parents would benefit from advice and help. The Order can last up to three years and the service may, if it is felt necessary, go back to the Court and ask for a Care Order.