Child Care Orders under the Children (Jersey) Law 2002
Updated 16 May 2019
Words you may need to know
The Bridge – This is an organisation which supports families. It is based at the bottom of St Saviours Hill on the edge of town.
JFCAS – Jersey Family Court Advisory Service
CRH – Case review hearing
Enforced - made to happen
Case Conference – this is a meeting at which different people will be asked to attend to discuss the matter
Abandoned – left on their own with no –one to help
For help about children/s matters please click on the link below;
Anyone involved in applications for children will be expected to attend the "Keeping Children in Mind" course which is organised by The Bridge unless a JFCAS officer thinks that based on the case, it is not appropriate.
Whether you will have to attend the course, will be decided when you see a JFCAS officer before the CRH hearing.
What the Children's Service must do
In Jersey the Children's Service is part of the Social Services Department and comes under the Minister for Health and Social Services who is responsible for making sure that the Children (Jersey) Law 2002 is enforced.
The law is there to protect children and this is done through a number of different orders. An order is an instruction from the court that something should or should not be done.
The Service's main aim is to protect children while at the same time supporting the family as a whole. They can always be contacted for advice when dealing with cases involving child care.
There are many ways that the Service can help a family to improve on their parenting skills and these will usually be offered by the Children's Service before any decisions are taken. Removing child/ren from parents' care is not undertaken lightly but the child/ren's health and wellbeing is their first concern.
Reporting child care concerns
The Children's Service may get information about problems about the care of children from many areas such as:
- Parents and relatives
- Teaching staff in schools
- Nursery staff
- Hospital staff
- Health visitors
- The Police
When information is received by the Children's Service they will try and get as much information as possible about the family situation. A Children's Service Officer will be given responsibility for the case, and together with colleagues, make sure that the most suitable action is taken.
In serious cases, the case worker who has been given the case will organise a family review by bringing together a range of people from all different areas. A Child Care Officer will be given to the family to help them and talk with other services. In this way the family are given help so their views are taken into consideration at Case Conferences and they are able to help themselves as much as possible.
Reasons for taking children into care
The Children (Jersey) Law 2002 has changed the reasons why children may be taken into care for their own protection or control.
The law states that: -
The child must be under the age of seventeen, or sixteen if married or in a civil partnership.
The Court may only make an Order if it is satisfied-
that the child in question is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm
that the harm, or likelihood of harm, is because of :-
the care given to the child, or likely to be given to them if the order was not made, or not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give, or
the child is beyond their parents' control
"harm" means ill-treatment or the damage to health or development. In other words, the child is being treated badly or not getting the care and attention they need to grow and be healthy.
"development" mean physical health, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development. It might be helpful if you had some ideas what that means.
Physical development might mean the child is not getting enough food to grow, intellectual development means they are not being played with or spoken to so they can learn.
Emotional development means they are not getting the care and love they need to be a happy child.
Social or behavioural could mean they are not being allowed to mix with other children or their behaviour is not being managed by the parent/s.
"health" means physical or mental health
Physical means illnesses you can see like measles or chickenpox and mental illness means their mind and the way it works. Those illnesses are more difficult to see and to treat.
"ill-treatment" includes sexual abuse and other forms of ill-treatment which other than hitting someone. This might mean tormenting, ignoring, shouting at at, or not behaving towards them in a caring or kind way.
Types of Order
Each order depends on how urgent the problem is and if there a risk to the child/ren. There are different actions that can be considered by the case worker and team, also involving the parents.
The types of Care Order available are as follows: -
- Emergency Protection Order
- Interim Care Order
- Care Order
- Child Assessment Order
- Supervision Order
Emergency Protection Order
This is an order which is available to the Children's service where they think that any child/ren under seventeen years to be at immediate serious risk.
A warrant (which is an order) is given by the Bailiff to a Child Care Officer which allows them (possibly with a police officer and doctor) to go into buildings and take the child/ren to a place of safety.
The Order can be granted under Article 37 if it is reasonable to believe that the child is likely to suffer major harm if ;
- they are not removed to a place of safety made available by the Social Services Department, or
- they do not stay in the place where they are living.
An Emergency Protection Order lasts for 28 days and the Social Services Department if they think it necessary, must go back to the Royal Court during this time to ask for a different Order. Parents may argue against this application.
The police have the power to remove a child to a place of safety, without a Court Order, for up to 72 hours.
Interim Care Order (An Interim Care Order is a short -term order)
This order is one that would be asked for by the Children's Service on behalf of the Minister for Health and Social Services where they plan to apply for a Care Order.
The Court decides how long these orders should last and they can be renewed but they can only last for a total of 8 weeks from the start date of the first order. During this time parents who wish to challenge the order should get legal advice, (through Legal Aid if possible), and prepare their case, perhaps giving evidence of any efforts they are making to change a poor child care situation.
Under Article 24 the Children's Service on behalf of the Minister for Health and Social Services may apply to the Royal Court for an Order placing children in the care of the Department. The Department then makes all the decisions for the child/ren that a parent might make. The child/ren may be placed in a children's home, with foster parents or with the child/ren's family. An Order can stay in force until the child is aged 19 unless the Court cancels it before then. The child/ren could be allowed back to the parents if the situation improves, and the Department are no longer worried that the child/ren is at risk, while the order is in force.
Child Assessment Order
This is an order under Article 36 of the Law which allows the Children's Service to carry out a full review of a child's condition, where the parents are unlikely to want to be helpful, but without the need to take the child/ren from their care.
The way they apply for one is the same as that for an Emergency Protection Order. It is asked for when the Social Services Department:-
- thinks that the child/ren is suffering, or is might suffer major harm,
- checks on the state of the child/ren's health or development, or of the way in which they have been treated, is needed for the Social Services Department to decide whether or not the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, major harm; and
- it is unlikely that the checks will be made, or be satisfactory, if the order is not made.
Under Article 17 of the Law there is a need for the Minister for Health and Social Services to make available accommodation for any child in need who appears to need accommodation as a result of:-
- there being no - one who has parental responsibility for them:
- they being lost or having been abandoned; or
- the person who has been caring for them is no longer (whether or not permanently, and for whatever reason) giving them suitable accommodation or care.
This article DOES NOT take away any of the parents rights and the children involved are not thought to be 'in care' but 'looked after'.
Where the Social Services Department is looking after any child/ren it has a duty to:
- keep them safe and look after their health and safety
- keep the children's parents involved in their care as much as possible in the case of the child/ren.
In making any decisions with respect to the child the Department must try to find out the wishes and feelings of:-
- the child/ren
- the parents
- any person who is not a parent but has parental responsibility
- any other person/s whose views are thought to be relevant
Parental Rights Order
This Order no longer exists and where it was used in the past, are dealt instead by Care Orders.
The Court may feel it right for child/ren to be placed under the supervision of an employee of the Social Services Department. This may be where a situation is not thought bad enough to take the child/ren from the care of their parents, but where it is felt that both the child and the parents would benefit from advice and help. The Order can last up to three years and the Social Services Department may, if it is felt necessary, go back to the Court and ask for a Care Order.
The parent(s) of children 'looked after' may have to put money towards their upkeep if they can afford it, and this may be by Court Order if necessary. Parents must also keep the Children's Service up to date with their address.