Child Assessment Orders
Child Assessment Orders are used in situations where the local authority must intervene as part of a safeguarding process. These orders are usually applied when an investigation is launched after concerns have been raised in relation to the health, welfare or development of a child.
This is often the first step in the process when the authority is considering a Section 8 Court Order, whether this is a residence order, contact order, specific issue order or supervision order.
Making an Application
A local authority or authorised individual may submit an application for an order to be made under Section 43(1) of the Children Act 1989. The Court may decide to grant the order provided that one or several elements exist.
- There is reasonable grounds by the applicant that the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm
- An assessment is required to review the welfare, health and development of the child as well as their day to day treatment in order for the applicant to make a decision as to whether or not the child in question is suffering or likely to suffer from harm
- It is unlikely that a Child Assessment Order will be initiated without submitting an application for a further order by the court
- A Child Assessment Order is often used where there is a risk of long term harm to the child
There are instances when the Court will not issue a Child Assessment Order.
Typical situations will include:
When the court believes that an Emergency Protection Order would be more suitable once they have reviewed the circumstances of the child
In some instances, the court may decide that an application for a Child Assessment Order can be treated the same as an application made for an Emergency Protection Order
Child Assessment Orders
Once a Child Assessment Order has been issued by the Court, the individual named on the application must conduct the required assessment and fully comply with the directions as outlined within the Order.
If the child in question can understand the nature of the assessment or they can reach an informed decision, they may refuse to complete a psychiatric or medical assessment.
That being said, this does not mean that the child’s decision cannot be overruled by the Court. Typical situations when this would arise would be when the court deems that the tests and assessments would be in the child’s best interests to safeguard their welfare.
As a result the local authority only has a limited amount of time to make their enquiries and carry out the assessments so before they submit an application they must be suitably prepared so that they can carry out what they need to in the short time frame that is allocated.
Once the Child Assessment Order has been granted, another one cannot be submitted within six months without seeking permission from the court.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.