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If a child or young person is suspected by the local authority (often called children’s services), of being significantly harmed or at risk of significant harm in their current residence (due to the care given or though their own behaviour) then an application may be made to the Family Court. This could be for either a Care Order or Supervision Order. At the start of the case the local authority may also ask the Court to make an interim order if it can persuade the court that there are “reasonable grounds” for believing a child or young person has been significantly harmed or is at risk of significant harm.

When a local authority applies for a Care Order or Supervision Order and if you are a parent of the child to whom the local authority have applied to Court it is likely that you will be entitled to free legal aid. Legal Aid can be available not only to get advice from an expert at Ramsdens Solicitors but also so that we can represent you in Court.

It is important to understand that there are significant differences between a Care Order and a Supervision Order;

One key difference is that a Care Order whether as an interim order or as a final order allows the local authority to share parental responsibility for a child and they can therefore make important decisions on the child’s behalf. A local authority does not share parental responsibility with a child’s parents when a Supervision Order is made either as a interim or a final order. Instead a Supervision Order will impose a duty on the local authority to “advise assist and befriend” the child or young person which could mean a parent has to work with the local authority in specific ways to ensure the child is safe and supported in their care.

Another very important difference is that in certain circumstances under a Care Order (depending on the information before the Court and then the Judge’s decision) the child or young person can be removed from the care of a parent or parents. Sometimes the Court can even decide to remove the child from someone else with parental responsibility rights with whom the child lives such as a family carer. For a child or young person to be removed under an interim or final Care Order the Court has to decides this is absolutely necessary to keep the child or young person safe and that there is no alternative.

Whenever a Court makes a Care Order as an interim or final order it has to set out a written plan setting out what will happen about where the child or young person lives, arrangements to see parents and sometimes other family members such as siblings and other important information for example about health and education depending upon age and circumstances. The local authority can also sometimes provide a similar written plan under a Supervision Order. A child’s parent or carer may not agree with some of the local authority evidence or the plan put forward and will need independent, expert legal advice to consider the options.

It is really important that you get legal advice as early as possible from one of our child law specialists regardless of whether a Care Order or Supervision Order is being applied for. These types of cases can have a very significant effect on the legal rights of a parent or carer. It is really important to get expert advice and representation on the type of Order that could be applied for by the local authority and also how this could affect your rights involving your child.

FAQs About Care And Supervision Orders

What are Supervision Orders?

This is a court order that enables a local authority to assist support and befriend the supervised child on a legal basis without sharing parental responsibility with the parents.

How long do supervision orders last?

Up to between 6 and 12 months.

Can a supervision order be extended?

Yes, it can be extended each year but for no more than up to three years in total.

Can a supervision order be transferred?

Yes, a supervision order can be transferred between different local authorities.

What happens when a supervision order ends?

The local authority's involvement will either:

  • come to an end, or;
  • stepped down to a child-in-need plan that does not involve court but further work with the local authority on a consensual basis. A different plan or no plan or intervention at all can be the outcome if all has gone well.


For further information please contact one of our child law specialists. To speak to a solicitor, call our child law team today on 01924 431 774, send us an email at, or fill out an online enquiry form to request a call back.