Close up of parent and a child hands at sunset.

One of the options available to the Court within children public law care proceedings is a supervision order, initially for 1 year, but potentially extendable. Their purpose is to advise, assist and befriend the child who has suffered and/or at risk of suffering significant harm due to their parents care.

There have been concerns about the effectiveness of such orders in safeguarding children. A review of supervision orders was published in April 2023. The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane said:

“This report makes recommendations to ensure that in the future a supervision order is a robust and effective public law order to secure and promote the welfare of children in the care of their parent(s) or wider family. The Best Practice Guidance sets out six core best principles which underpin the making and operation of supervision orders. I am particularly impressed by the new requirement of best practice that a supervision order should only be made when the court has approved a supervision support plan which clearly sets out the support and resources to be provided for a family by a local authority.”

Report recommendations

  1. The purpose of a supervision order is to enable children to remain in or, as the case may be, to be returned to the care of their parents or carers whilst ensuring their protection and promoting their welfare best interests.
  2. It is key to the success of a supervision order that there is complete clarity about the support and services the local authority will provide to the family and around the expectations of the professionals about what the parents or carers and/or the children are to achieve.
  3. A cogent and comprehensive supervision support plan is the vehicle for clearly setting out the support and services that will be provided and expectations of the parents, carers and/or the children.
  4. The supervision support plan must be approved by the Court before a supervision order is made.
  5. For the purposes of devising the supervision support plan, the local authority should convene a family group conference, or a similar group.
  6. The needs and requirements of the family for support and services may change over the life of the supervision order. It is, therefore, essential that periodic reviews of the operation and effectiveness of the order are undertaken by the local authority.
  7. This goal set out in point (1.) above is more likely to be achieved if the local authority and the parents or carers are able to work in co-operation with each other. Of equal importance is that parents or carers believe that they are an integral part of the planning for and the implementation of a supervision order plan, rather than feeling that the plans and expectations have been imposed upon them by social work and other professionals.
  8. What ultimately underlies all of these recommendations is the aim of increasing the confidence of parents, carers, children social work and other welfare professionals, the legal professions and the judiciary that a supervision order can be a robust order for effecting change within a family, for providing protection for the children, for promoting their well-being and that the local authority will deliver, throughout the life of the order, the support and services set out in the supervision support plan. Subject to periodic reviews.


Overall a plan which is supportive, clear, keeps the focus on the child, monitored and reviewed, taking into account the findings and conclusions of the Court in the care proceedings.


If you have any further enquiries regarding Supervision Order’s, please contact our Family Team.