Johnson Astills Solicitors Banner Image


News and Events

Will I get extra support during Care Proceedings?

  • Posted

If you are a parent with additional needs, such as learning difficulties or cognitive functioning issues and the Local Authority are involved with your children, you may be entitled to extra support.

What are Care Proceedings?

When the Local Authority are so worried about the risk of harm or neglect to a child, they can initiate Court Proceedings. This means that the following threshold for an Interim Care or Supervision Order has been met under s31(2) of the Children Act 1989;

A court may only make a care order or supervision order if it is satisfied—

(a) that the child concerned is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm; and

(b) that the harm, or likelihood of harm, is attributable to—

(i)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

(ii)the child being beyond parental control.

Will I be entitled to Legal Aid?

Biological parents of children or persons with Parental Responsibility for children subject to Care Proceedings are entitled to Legal Aid and will require representation at Court.

Johnson Astills has a dedicated Care Team who will be able to assist you with such matters.

What happens if I do not understand the Court Proceedings?

Johnson Astills  support and represent parents with additional needs. Parents may be asked by the Court to engage in a variety of assessments, such as psychological assessments, cognitive functioning and capacity assessments, parenting assessments or different types of risk assessment. It is very important to engage in any assessment  that is ordered by the Court.

Solicitors at Johnson Astills will always encourage these assessments if they feel their clients need additional support.

What is an Intermediary?

Parents with severe learning difficulties may require an Intermediary assessment. These assessments are completed independently by companies such as Communicourt,or Triangle. The role of an Intermediary is to facilitate communication to ensure that communication is as complete, coherent and accurate as possible.

Intermediaries were originally introduced to assist vulnerable witnesses in criminal trials; guidance for parents involved in Care Proceedings is still developing. Cognitive assessments will often make recommendations that an intermediary assessment is undertaken if there are concerns regarding the parents communication skills.

If an Intermediary is recommended in this assessment the Judge will then decide if they are needed or not for the remainder of the Proceedings. An Intermediary would attend meetings, conferences and Court hearings with the vulnerable client and assist them by ensuring they have understood all of the information given to them and any questions asked of them.

What happens if I do not have capacity to instruct a solicitor?

In some cases, it may be found that parents have a very low IQ andlack capacity to instruct a solicitor.

If you are deemed to lack l capacity, the Court will be concerned about you understanding the proceedings and the Official Solicitor may be appointed as a litigation friend to assist with the Court process, if you do not have family members or friends who could act as your litigation friend... Johnson Astills can still support you even if you are told that you do not have the capacity to instruct a solicitor as we can take instructions from the Official Solicitor.

The Official Solicitor is there to make decisions about your Court case and will ensure that the Judge and the other parties are aware of your wishes and feelings. Your solicitor and your Official Solicitor will work very closely together to prepare documents setting out your position, although you will not meet the Official Solicitor.

Parenting Assessment

If you are asked to engage in a parenting assessment as a part of the proceedings, you may be offered a PAMS or Parent Assess assessment instead of an ordinary parenting assessment. PAMS and Parent Assess are different assessment models that are used when parents have learning difficulties or cognitive issues. These parenting assessments are tailored to the individual participating and are very important as they ensure all parents have a fair chance to demonstrate that they can provide safe care to their children.

Parents with additional needs will be entitled to extra support and will not be disadvantaged throughout proceedings.

We understand that the Local Authority being involved with your children can be very stressful and that is why we are here to help and provide advice. We have experience in assisting parents at all stages of Local Authority involvement. Please contact  Johnson Astills at either our Leicester Office on 0116 255 4855 or our Loughborough Office on 01509 610 312 and ask for a member of the Care Team so that we can advise you accordingly. Alternatively, please email us on  and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.