1. Overview

If your child is taken into care because of a care order, your council will share responsibility for making most of the important decisions about your child’s upbringing, including:

  • who looks after them
  • where they live
  • how they are educated

If you agree to your child becoming ‘looked after’ and there is no care order, you’ll continue to have parental responsibility for your child.

In either case, the council is responsible for:

  • making sure that an appropriate standard of care is provided
  • making sure only suitable people are employed to look after your child
  • providing proper training and support to staff and foster carers
  • listening to your child’s views and your views about care arrangements and taking their religion, race, culture and background into account
  • making sure your child has someone independent to talk to and knows how to complain if necessary

The child may be placed with either:

  • another relative
  • a foster carer
  • a children’s home

Care orders

A care order is given by a court. It allows a council to take a child into care. Under the Children Act 1989 a council can apply for a care order if it believes a child is suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm.

The court decides if the child can be taken into care.

Care orders last until:

  • the child’s 18th birthday
  • an order is made giving parental responsibility to another person - eg through adoption
  • the court lifts the order (this is called ‘discharging’ the order)

A child can be taken into care if they are under 18.

Making a complaint

If your child is in care and you’re unhappy about their treatment, you can make a complaint. Talk to your child’s carer or social worker first and if you’re not happy, you can complain to your council.

Support for parents

The Family Rights Group Advice Service helpline provides confidential support for parents:

Family Rights Group helpline
Telephone: 0800 731 1696
Monday to Friday, 10am to 3:30pm
Find out about call charges

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