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Study finds that one in five children subject to Supervision Orders are harmed again within five years

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A recent study undertaken by Lancaster University for the Centre for Child & Family Justice Research looked at the contribution of supervision orders and special guardianship to children’s lives and family justice.

The number of children in care and supervision applications has more than doubled since 2007-08.

The study followed 19,296 children placed under supervision between 2010-11 and 2016-17. It found that at least one in five children in England were allowed to return to their family home, which was potentially a dangerous home, under a supervision order and were then back in court within five years having been subjected to further significant harm.

Research showed at least 8% of all children under supervision orders returned to court within 12 months of previous proceedings and children aged under five and placed under a supervision order were at greater risk of returning to court than older children. It is likely these numbers could be higher because a proportion of children who have returned home to parents have not been captured by the study.

The study gave an insight into some of the pressures on parents which could lead to a child’s well-being being undermined, this included 56% of children being exposed to housing problems and 49% of children in the study were exposed to financial hardship.

Professionals were deeply frustrated with the lack of powers available to help them keep vulnerable children safe according to the study.

Professor Judith Harwin stated that over the four year period “an increased proportion of children were exposed to harm, indicating a deteriorating picture of parenting capacity” she stated “these are arguably treatable issues which, if public services and social welfare provision were better resourced, could readily be addressed.”

A recent Care Crisis Review found that families were an underused resource and that more use could be made of special guardianship orders to place those children at risk with another family member. The Lancaster University study found children who were placed under special guardianship orders had lower rates of a return to court as just 5% of these cases had further care proceedings within five years.

For further details on what a Supervision Order or Special Guardianship Order is, please see our previous articles:

What is a Supervision Order?

What is a Special Guardianship Order?

Here at Emery Johnson Astills, we understand that it can be distressing when there is Local Authority involvement with your child.

Our Care Team are specialists in providing expert legal advice in relation to any Local Authority involvement, including advice on Supervision Orders and Special Guardianship Orders.

If you require some advice in this area then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0116 255 4855 to discuss, or e-mail us on to discuss how we may be able to assist you.