Reported Case: A Local Authority v The Mother & Ors  EWFC 19 (B)
Head of Care Solicitor Sian Churchill and Counsel Jessica Redford (3DJB) appear in reported case: A Local Authority v The Mother & Ors  EWFC 19 (B) representing a Father in long-running public law care proceedings for his four children.
This Judgment is significant because it suggests that the Local Authority had failed to care plan adequately for the children involved.
The client was vulnerable and had communication difficulties.
The children faced difficulties of their own, and the eldest was placed in a residential children’s home to provide him support, which the Judge described in his Judgment as “wholly exceptionally for his age”.
Further, given the child’s age and his diagnoses of autism and ADHD, the Court noted it was “particularly concerning” that it was unclear if important details of this placement and the staff working with the child were given to the Court.
During the Final Hearing, the parties and the Court became aware for the first time that the child was being restrained by the home. The Court was very worried to hear of this, given the child’s age and the lack of lawful authority allowing the home to do this. Accordingly, the Local Authority made an application for a Deprivation of Liberty Order to be heard at a later date of the Final Hearing.
The Local Authority asked the Court for Placement Orders for the younger three children, which would allow them to place the children for adoption. It appeared to the Court that the Local Authority’s approach to making such an application was wrong, as it seemed to be the starting point for these children. Ultimately, the Court dismissed these applications after careful consideration of the evidence and the case law surrounding Placement and Adoption
The Court raised concerns about the care plan for the eldest child. It was clear he was not receiving proper education, or targeted therapy beyond ‘animal therapy’. The Local Authority had not identified an alternative placement for him and the Court said it is essential the Local Authority takes urgent steps to reassess the care planning for him.
The Local Authority must now prepare new care plans for all four children and these will be presented to all parties and the Court for consideration.