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The council can start ‘care proceedings’ if they’re very worried about a child.
They can apply for a ‘care order’ which means the council will have parental responsibility for your child and can determine where your child can live.
They can apply for a ‘placement order’ as well if they believe that the child should be adopted. This allows the council to place the child with suitable adopters.
Interim care orders
At the start of care proceedings, the council asks the family court to make a temporary court order, called an ‘interim care order’.
If the court agrees, the council can take the child into care on a temporary basis. This can be for up to 8 weeks at first.
Looking at the case
It can take up to 26 weeks for a court to decide what should happen to the child. Some complex cases can take longer.
During this time a social worker, an officer from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) and other people will be trying to understand the reasons why the child may be at risk. They will also look at what can be done to keep them safe.
They will talk to the parents and the child. They may talk to other family members or friends about looking after the child if they cannot safely live at home. The parents might also get support.
The social worker and Cafcass officer will each write a report for the court. These will outline what they think should happen to the child.
They will include whether they think the child should be taken into care or stay with the family.
Once all the information has been gathered, there will be a court hearing.