Understanding the relationship between the use of care and care proceedings

Abstract: Understanding the relationship between the use of care and care proceedings
Judith Masson
Since 2015, an increasing number of children have entered the care system through care proceedings (i.e. compulsorily), whilst the number of children entering under s.20 (voluntarily) has declined, largely as a result of policy pressures from the courts. The use of court proceedings and court orders is of increasing importance as the population of children in care becomes more dominated by children subject to care orders. Research into the care system has tended to focus on numbers rather than legal status (Sinclair et al 2007; Dickens et al 2007) and neglected the impact of the legal process on the pathways children travel through the system. The Outcomes of care proceedings for children before and after care proceedings reform Study (2015-18), for the first time linked DfE data (CLA and CiN) with data on children in care proceedings and identified children’s interactions with the care system before, during and after proceedings, and the impact of proceedings on the use of local authority care. The findings identified: how the reform of care proceedings reduced the length of time many children spend in care; a ‘different leaving care curve’ for children subject to proceedings and issues with the CLA data which confuse rather than clarify the use of SGOs for looked after children. This presentation will explore the relationships between court proceedings and care (and vice versa) and highlight the importance of understanding when children are, or have been, subject to proceedings, as well as whether or not they are accommodated or subject to a care order.