Role of the Children’s Guardian in Care Proceedings
Social services have a statutory obligation to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children. If there are serious concerns about the safety or welfare of your child then social services may apply to the court for a care or supervision order.
A Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) officer will be appointed as the independent voice of the child in court. A CAFCASS officer in care proceedings is known as the Children’s Guardian.
A Children’s Guardian will appoint a solicitor to represent your child. This solicitor must be on the Law Society Accredited Children Panel and will be an expert in dealing with the area of law relating to children. Here at Emery Johnson Astills we have four solicitors in our care department who are Accredited Children Panel Solicitors and can represent children alongside the Children’s Guardian.
A Children’s Guardian is independent from social services and they will act in your child’s best interests. The Children’s Guardian will review the care plan for the child and give a recommendation to the Court about what they think is in your child’s best interests. If the Children’s Guardian disagrees with social services they may suggest an alternative to them.
The Children’s Guardian will generally arrange to meet with your child at various points throughout the care proceedings. If your child is old enough then the Children’s Guardian will speak to them about what is happening and consider their level of understanding and what they would like to happen. The Children’s Guardian may at some point want to observe you with your child either at home, or during a contact session.
As part of the proceedings the Children’s Guardian will also arrange to see you, school teachers, nursery nurse, health professionals and anybody else involved with your child.
Throughout the care proceedings the Children’s Guardian will try to answer any questions that you may have about the case. However, they are not legally qualified and cannot give you legal advice. Here at Emery Johnson Astills we have a specialist care department who are experts in child care law and can advise, assist and represent you throughout your involvement with social services. We will assess you for free legal advice through Legal Aid as in many cases, free legal advice can be obtained.