3. Going to court
Once all the information has been gathered, there will be a court hearing. The judge will look at the reports, and listen to everyone involved in the case, including:
- the child
- the parents
- solicitors representing parents and children
- the council social worker
- the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) officer
The child will go back home if the judge decides that they’re safe. If not, the council will find them a new home. That may be with:
- other members of their family
- a new family
- a children’s home
- a foster carer
What Cafcass does
In care proceedings, a Children’s Guardian from Cafcass represents the rights and interests of the child. They spend time getting to know the child and their family before the hearing.
The Children’s Guardian:
- appoints a solicitor for the child
- advises the court about what needs to be done before it can make a decision
- tells the court what they think would be best for the child – including the child’s wishes and feelings
The Children’s Guardian will usually spend time with the child and their family. They’ll tell the court if they haven’t seen the child before they write their report. They may also talk to other people who know the family, like teachers, social workers and health visitors.
- go to meetings about the child
- check records and read the council’s case file
- recommend to the court that other independent professionals help the court with advice, eg a doctor or psychologist
Cafcass workers are independent – they don’t work for the council or the court.
You can find out more about what happens in care proceedings and about what Cafcass does on the Cafcass website.