How Do I Get Contact with Children in Care
Who can have contact with a child in care?
The Children Act of 1989 dictates that children should be allowed reasonable contact with following individuals;
A person holding a Child Arrangements Order or Residence Order for residence immediately prior to issue of Care Order
A person with the care of the child under wardship right before the issue of the Care Order
Please note that this “reasonable amount” will vary depending on all family circumstances.
However, legally it is the general obligation of the Children’s Services to promote contact between the child and their family members. This includes not just parents but also siblings and grandparents.
Allowing some contact is the default position of the Children's Services unless there are any court orders in place that suggest otherwise. However, allowing contact can range from many different types of contact, including contact centres.
What if I cannot afford the travel costs for contact?
Children’s Services have the authority to either contribute towards or fully fund contact expenses such as travel or other expenses. However, it is not the duty of Children’s Services to do so
Therefore, Local Authorities will often have a policy to tackle such situations. These policies are often along the lines of them funding the contact only in situations where it would cause financial hardship if they didn’t.
Do I have a right to know where my child is staying?
The Local Authority should take appropriate steps to keep persons with parental responsibility and parents while informing about the whereabouts of the child in care.
However, the Local Authority can and will conceal this if there is reason to believe that the welfare of the child would be negatively affected if the information was disclosed.
What if I am unhappy with the level of contact Children’s Services are allowing?
If you are unhappy with how much contact you are being allowed to have, there are options to try to get this changes. Some steps you could take would be to:
Talk to the child’s social worker, and ask them to tell you why you are only allowed a limited amount of contact.
You can then suggest a proposal about the type of contract you want to have (ie. supervised contact, at home, in the community) and explain why this arrangement is in child’s best interest. If the social worker is convinced that your new arrangement is in the child’s best interest, they may consider changing the current plans.
If you find that the situation cannot be resolved amicably but believe you have a strong case for your argument, you can apply for a court order for contact with child in care.
We at Court Help Limited can help you draft your application and statements as well as talking you through the process for a low cost compared to solicitors and barristers. Call us at 07375757510 or fill in the quick contact form at the very bottom of the page.
How do I apply for an order for contact with a child in care?
If you are unhappy with the level of contact Children’s Services are allowing, then it is possible to apply for a court order for contact under Section 34 of the Children’s Act, 1989. (Please note this application is different from the Child Arrangement Order application under Section 8 of the Children’s Act, 1989).
In order to apply for a court order to contact a child in care, you should:
Fill in Form C1 (if you are currently in court proceedings, fill in a form C2 instead) and also supplemental form C15. All of these forms can be found on gov.uk.
If you are the parent, guardian or special guardian of the child in care or hold a Residence Order or Child Arrangement Order for residence immediately prior to the Care order was issued, you do not need permission of the court to fill the application.
If you are a grandparent or sibling of the child in care, then you would need to have permission from the court. The court will give permission if they believe there is a real chance of success.
When you make the application to the courts, you will have to notify:
The local authorities
Any person who is caring for the child at the time the application is made
Any person with parental responsibility of the child.
At Court Help Limited we can draft applications to the court for you and walk you through this difficult process at a lower cost compared to solicitors and barristers. Contact us at 07375757510 or fill in the quick contact form at the very bottom of the page.
What type of contact can be granted?
While granting the contact, the court can attach conditions to the contact, for example if it is supervised, overnight in the community or indirectly in the form of emails, letters or telephone calls.
It may also stipulate people who are not allowed to be present during the contact.
What will the court consider when deciding on contact with a child in care?
While deciding on the contact with a child in care, the court begins with the presumption that reasonable contact should be allowed to exist between a child and a parent.
Accordingly, the court will balance the pros and cons of the contact. They will consider the impact of the contact on a child in the long-term and will also pay attention to the likelihood of the child returning to home.
The Court of Appeal has recognised that contact can:
Provide security to the child knowing that the parents love them and are concerned about their welfare.
Avoid loss related to the child feeling abandoned
Make the child feel that their biological parents approved of their foster family
Give the child a sense of personal and family identity
When can contact be refused?
The court has the authority to issue an order that allows the Children’s Services to refuse the contact of a child in care. Such an order can be made by court in any type of court proceedings related to the child.
Children’s Services themselves can also urgently refuse the contact of a child in care, if they feel that it is essential to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child. However, this refusal can last for a maximum period of 7 days only.
The Children’s Services will have to explain the reasons for such refusal in writing. If the Children's Service still wishes to refuse the contact for more than 7 days, they will have to obtain a court order
The court can issue an order with the authority to refuse the contact for as long as they feel it will be in the best interests of the child's welfare. However, the Children’s Services must review it on a regular basis, to see if resuming contact is appropriate and safe.
Can I apply again if the court authorizes refusal of contact?
If the court authorizes refusal of contact, then you need to obtain the courts permission before making another application within 6 months from the decision.
If the court believes that the application is not in the best interests and welfare of the child they may refuse the permission.
There is also a possibility that the court can put a barring order under Section 91(14) Children’s Act, 1989 to stop you from making any other application for a definite period of time.
If this situation arises, you would need to fill Form C2 to obtain the courts permission before making another application.
Court Help Limited can help you draft applications to the court and explain the process to you at a low cost compared to solicitors and barristers. Contact us at 07375757510 or fill in the quick contact form at the very bottom of the page.
What should I do if a Contact Order is made and the Local Authority does not allow contact?
If a Contact Order is made and the Local Authority does not allow contact, the order can be enforced by sending a penal notice, and court proceedings can be brought against a local authority for Contempt of Court.
Can the Contact Order be varied or discharged?
Any person (including a child or local authority) named in the contact order can apply to get the contact order discharged or varied by the court. Also, the court can itself discharge the contact.
If the Contact Order is varied or discharged, the Local Authority will remain under the duty of reasonable contact under Section 34 of the Children’s Act, 1989, meaning they should try to allow contact where it is safe and reasonable. This does not apply if the court makes another order authorizing the local authority to refuse contact.
The Contact Order can be varied with the child’s consent (if the child has a sufficient understanding) or on agreement.
What if the child in care wants contact with their sibling?
If a child in care wants contact with their sibling, then the child themselves can make an application under Section 8 of the Children Act, 1989 for contact with their sibling.
However, first they would have to obtain a court permission to make an application in Form C2.
Accordingly, they can apply for a Child Arrangements Order.
Please note that this article is not legal advice and must not be treated as legal advice.
Court Help Limited is a private paralegal firm with 5 Star Reviews and can be contacted at 07375757510.