Understanding the Law
August 7, 2009
Child Care – Part 5

The child who is brought before the Court by the Director may be given a care order. The Director who brings the child before the Court must have a care plan in the prescribed form.{{more}}

Child Care Plan

The care plan must deal with the important issue of parental responsibility because there could be the need to take the child away from the natural parent and allocate him or her to another person including the director, a foster parent or a relative of the child. It must take into account the kind of placement whether it would be of a temporary or permanent nature. Where there is a temporary placement leading to a permanent arrangement, attention has to be given to a timetable that would lead to this arrangement.

The care plan must take into account the need for the child to remain in contact with familiar persons such as the parents, relatives and friends and to this extent arrangements have to be made for contacts.

It must also address the issue of supervision after placement and the services that are to be provided.

The care plan must be arrived at with the agreement of the parent and the child where possible. It must be done on the basis of a thorough social enquiry report.

The social enquiry report

The enquiry is carried out by the Director. The Director can delegate this duty to a member of staff who must make site visits to the home and school to conduct interviews with parents, teachers or persons who may have influence in the child’s life. The opinion of the child must also be sought and included in the report especially where the child is of such age to vocalize his or her opinion. The object of the enquiry is to provide information to the court on which it could act. He or she can also make recommendations but the court is not compelled to accept the same. However, the Court must record and state the reasons why it does not comply with the recommendations given by the Director.

Besides supervisory and care orders, the court may make orders for the provision of support services or for the provision of therapeutic or treatment programmes or for compulsory assistance.

Support Services

In making an order for support services, the court will first give a notice to the person or agent of its intention to use its services. In this way the service provider would have an opportunity to appear before the court on the matter and to consent to providing the services.

Therapeutic or treatment programme

If the child has been in an abusive situation, the court could make an order for the child to attend a programme. The parents would be encouraged to take the steps ordered by the court.

Compulsory assistance

The Director will petition the court for this order if necessary. This would require treatment, therapy and other services to assist the child to deal with his problems. There would be the need for intensive supervision. This order will be made for a period not exceeding three months.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com