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Supervision Orders in Care Proceedings


This chapter details the processes required when the outcome of a Care Proceedings hearing leads to an Interim Supervision Order or Supervision Order by the court. Section 8, Management of Supervision Orders contains detailed guidance for workers on how to manage and implement Supervision Order Plans.


Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities on Court Orders and Pre Proceedings - Department for Education (2014)


  1. Policy Statement
  2. Key Points
  3. Duration of Orders
  4. Directions available within Supervision Orders (at the direction of the court)
  5. Children's Rights
  6. Standards
  7. Management of Supervision Orders
  8. Extending a Supervision Order

1. Policy Statement

The Children and Young People Service policy is to utilise appropriate measures under the Children Act 1989 to protect children who are suffering, or likely to suffer from Significant Harm. Thus for a child to be the subject of a Supervision Order, the grounds for a Care Order must be met, The child's needs, together with the management of the Supervision Order through coordinated multi-agency planning and intervention should be seen as of equal priority to a child who is subject to a care Order. Supervision Orders are time limited, and may be extended where needed on application to the court, but at all times the care and safeguarding needs of the child should be primary considerations for all Children and Young People Service staff.

2. Key Points

On the application of any Local Authority or authorised person, the court makes an order:

  1. Placing the child with respect to whom the application is made for the care of a designated local authority; or
  2. Putting him under the supervision of a designated local authority.

A court may only make a Care Order or Supervision Order if it is satisfied:

  1. That the child concerned is suffering, or is likely to suffer Significant Harm; and
  2. That the harm, or likelihood of harm, is attributable to:
    1. The care given to the child, or likely to be given to him if the order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give to him; or
    2. The child being beyond parental control.

A Supervision Order does not confer Parental Responsibility upon the parent or guardian with care of  the child. The Supervision Order will be in place for the period of time directed by the court.

No Supervision Order may be made with respect to a child who has reached the age of seventeen (or sixteen, in the case of a child who is married).

Supervision Orders can be made with respect to a child who is subject to a Child Arrangements Order, Special Guardianship Order (see Applications for Special Guardianship Orders Procedure), or any Section 8 Order and will not end those orders, being expected instead to support the carers in the best possible care of the child.

3. Duration of Orders

In the first instance, a court will generally impose a Supervision Order for one year, (though this can be for a shorter period of time). A supervisor can apply to the court to extend or further extend a Supervision Order for such period as the court may specify, but cannot extend in total for a period beyond three years from the date on which the Supervision Order began.

Whilst a Supervision Order is in force it shall be the duty of the supervisor, who will be a registered social worker to:

  1. Advise assist and befriend the supervised child;
  2. Take such steps as are reasonably necessary to give effect to the order; and
  3. Where:
    1. The order is not wholly complied with; or
    2. The supervisor considers that the order may no longer be necessary;
    3. To consider whether or not to apply to the court for its variation or discharge.

4. Directions available within Supervision Orders (at the direction of the court)

Directions can be made, which are sometimes relevant for older children, e.g. requiring them to live in a specific place in the case of a child who persists in returning to the home of a person who is a risk), or requiring them to attend medical appointments (e.g. a child with anorexia or self-harming or other diagnosed mental health problems). There may be other circumstances in which directions are appropriate.

A Supervision Order may require the supervised child to comply with any directions given from time to time by the supervisor which require him to do all or any of the following things:

  1. To live at a place or places specified in the directions for a period or periods so specified;
  2. To present himself to a person or persons specified in the directions at a place or places and on a  day or days so specified;
  3. To participate in activities specified in the directions on a day or days so specified.

It shall be for the supervisor to decide whether, and to what extent, he exercises his power to give directions and to decide the form of any directions which he gives.

Within the Supervision Order there is the opportunity to impose obligations on a responsible person, (Schedule 3). This makes the requirements the responsibility of the parent/carer as well as the child, but it needs their consent at the final hearing to include it in the order.

(Paragraph 8) requires the responsible person to give details of the child's address and allow the supervisor reasonable contact with the child.

The responsible person, in relation to a supervised child means:

  1. Any person who has parental responsibility for the child; and
  2. Any other person with whom the child is living.

A Supervision Order may require the supervised child to submit to a medical or psychiatric examination or to submit to any such examination from time to time as directed by the supervisor. See Schedule 3 for further details particularly in relation to medical/psychiatric examination and treatment.

5. Children's Rights

  • The right to apply for the discharge of a Supervision Order s.39(2)(b);
  • The right to make representation (including complaints) to the Local Authority if they are a "child who is in need". s.26(3)(a);
  • The right to be notified of the findings of a representation or complaint, s.26(7)(b)(ii);
  • The right to have a Children's Guardian appointed to represent his/her interests in certain proceedings s.41;
  • The right to be involved in Child in Need Reviews, and to have his or her views ascertained, and given due consideration (having regard to age and understanding) S17 (4A) (a) (b);
  • The child needs to be advised that there is a Children's Rights Officer available to them and a referral should be made to that officer where appropriate.

6. Standards

  • A Supervision Order should only be considered when no lesser option will meet the child's needs;
  • Children's wishes and feelings should be ascertained as soon as possible.

Any decision to initiate legal proceedings in respect of a child who suffering or likely to suffer significant harm should follow the Children and Young People Service processes and Statutory Guidance on Court Orders and Pre-proceedings (Department for Education 2014).

7. Management of Supervision Orders

At the finalisation of the proceedings, a Care Plan will have been presented to the court detailing the ways in which the family will be supported and the progress of the Supervision Order monitored. At the close of proceedings the child will become subject to a Supervision Order Plan and this should match the aspects of the Care Plan presented to the court.

The child's situation should be managed for the duration of the Supervision Order as follows:

  • When the child is made subject to an Interim Supervision Order or a Supervision Order the child's Social Worker will ensure that Care Director is updated to accurately reflect the child's new legal status. If this is not done any reports generated in relation to Supervision Orders as part of our performance framework will be inaccurate;
  • A Supervision Order Plan must be in place for every child subject to a Supervision Order. This should be created using the template embedded within Care Director. Supervision Order Plans should not be created in Word documents and then scanned as an attached document as this will present a barrier to audit;
  • The Supervision Order Plan must identify the Lead Professional, any resources or services that will be needed to achieve the planned outcomes within the agreed timescales and who is responsible for which action and the time-scale involved;
  • In particular, the Supervision Order Plan should:
    • Describe the identified developmental needs of the child, and any services required;
    • Include specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child;
    • Include realistic strategies and specific actions to achieve the planned outcomes;
    • Include a contingency plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
    • Included timescales that are not too short or unachievable;
    • Not be dependent on resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
    • Identify the Lead Professional and his or her responsibilities, including frequency of visits to the child;
    • Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of other professionals and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by professionals with children and family members;
    • Lay down points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged.
  • The Chair of the Supervision Order meeting is responsible for the distribution of the Supervision Order Plan. A copy of the Supervision Order Plan should be provided to the parents, child (if old enough) and the agencies or other professionals involved in the provision of services under the Plan;
  • The Lead Professional will be responsible for implementing the plan including making referrals to appropriate agencies for services as described in the plan;
  • Where it becomes necessary to make minor adjustments to the plan and services provided, any changes to the plan must be made in consultation with the parents and the child (where appropriate) and key professionals from other agencies;
  • Supervision Order Reviews will be conducted at intervals agreed with the Lead Professional's line manager, which will be at least every three months, unless there are exceptional circumstances when timescales can be longer e.g. in the case of disabled children;
  • Supervision Order Reviews should be recorded within Care Director using the Supervision Order Review Meeting "drop-down";
  • If there are significant changes in the family circumstances, an early review should take place;
  • Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of a Supervision Order Plan must be responded to in line with What Happens after the Child Protection Conference, including the Review Process;
  • The Review will usually be carried out by the Lead Professional, who should invite or seek the views of the child, parents and any service providers. The responsible team will administer Supervision Order Reviews;
  • The Review will generally take place within a meeting, unless the manager agrees otherwise. The Lead Professional or line manager will usually chair the meeting;
  • The purpose of the Review is to ensure that the services provided are contributing to the achievement of the objectives within the time-scales set.

In rare circumstances it may be felt that a child who is subject to a Supervision Order also needs the protection afforded by a Child Protection Plan. In such situations discussion should always be held with the Service Manager and also the Service Lead for the Safeguarding and Reviewing Unit. Such situations should be extremely rare and consideration should always be given to why the Supervision Order Plan is deemed to be insufficient to protect the child and what advantage a Child Protection Plan will bring for a child who is already subject to a court order. A Supervision Order Plan should be given at least as much priority by all agencies as a Child Protection Plan.

8. Extending a Supervision Order

During the Child in Need meetings or reviews, constant attention should be given to whether the Supervision Order will need to be extended.

If at the review a recommendation is made that the Supervision Order needs to be extended, the case should be referred back to support panel and where agreed, a Legal Planning Meeting convened. Good practice indicates that this review recommendation should be a minimum of 3 months prior to the end date of a Supervision Order.

If a decision is made not to seek to extend the Supervision Order the reasons for this decision must be fully recorded in the review minutes.

If at the review it is recommended that the Supervision Order is not providing the level of safeguarding required for the child, it may be felt that it is necessary to return to court to seek a Care Order. In these circumstances this issue needs to be placed before the support panel as above.

In an emergency a decision to place the matter before the court can be taken by Head of Service.

N.B. an application for a Care Order whilst a Supervision Order is in force will be treated as a fresh Care Proceedings application and the threshold for making a S.31 order will have to be proved as at the date of Local Authority intervention (usually the date of the new application).