Child and parent gardening in vegetable garden in backyard

The Court of Appeal recently considered the principles in making a decision whether a child should be at home under a final supervision or care order. The court noted there seemed to be different approaches taken in different parts of the country but there needed to be a common approach.

The Family Court

Given the significance of a care order through which the local authority share parental responsibility with the parents but in effect determine the child’s living arrangements the type of order made by the Family Court is of real importance.

In the case known as Re: JW the local authority and independent children’s guardian had proposed and supported the making of a final care order and for the children to remain at home with their mother. There were concerns about the risks arising from another family member and about the protective ability of the mother.

The mother appealed the decision of the court to make a care order with the children to remain at home. The Court of Appeal decided that the Family Court made an error and allowed the appeal and made a supervision order for all 3 children for 12 months.

Public Law Working Group

The Court of Appeal noted recommendations from the Public Law Working Group made in March 2021 summarised below:-

  • A care order should not be used solely as a way to achieve support and services after the conclusion of proceedings.
  • A care order on the basis that the child will be living at home should only be made when there are exceptional reasons. It should be rare that the risks of significant harm to a child are judged to be sufficient to make a care order but that the risks can be managed with the child remaining in the care of the parents.
  • Unless in an exceptional case a care order is necessary for the protection of the child some other means of providing support and services must be used.
  • When a child is to be placed at home the making of a supervision order to support reunification may be proportionate
  • If a supervision order is being considered the court should require the local authority to have a supervision support plan in place.

As in any family case early advice about such matters is critical.


If you require any further advice regarding care orders or matters related to children please feel free to contact our Family Law team and we would be happy to help.