Making Sense of the Children Act 1989 4e
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More About This Title Making Sense of the Children Act 1989 4e


The Children Act is a major piece of legislation that affects all professionals working with children. Since the third edition of this book was published in 1996, there have been some important developments. This Fourth Edition takes these developments into consideration. Topics discussed include case law in the superior courts; the establishment of CAFCASS; and the Fostering Services Regulations of 2002; and much more.


Nick Allen, BA, M. Phil, lectures in Family Law, Immigration Law and Public Law at Nottingham Trent University, which he joined after working for the Official Solicitor and a London Local authority. He was closely involved in the consultation exercise conducted by the Law Commission Prior to the Children Act and has lectured and trained extensively on the Act. His other publications include Making Sense of the New Adoption Law (Russell House Publishing, 2003).


About the Author.



1. Introduction.

Why the Children Act is different.

Public and private child law.

Background to the Act.

The scheme and style of the Children Act.

Amendments to the Act since 1989.

Rules, regulations and orders made under the Act.

The Children Act Guidance.

The Children Act Advisory Committee.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

2. Parental responsibility.

Parental responsibility: what it is and what it isn’t.

The initial allocation of parental responsibility.

The acquisition of parental responsibility.

The sharing of parental responsibility.

The content of parental responsibility.

The exercise of parental responsibility.

The extinguishment of parental responsibility.

The position of people who do not have parental responsibility.

3. Court orders in favour of parents.


Private law orders under the previous law.

The scheme of Part II of the Children Act.

When orders can be made.

Contact orders.

Residence orders.

Prohibited steps orders.

Specific issue orders.

Supplementary conditions attached to orders.

Family assistance orders.

The exercise of the court’s discretion.

Procedure and evidence.

Interim section 8 orders.

Welfare reports.

Separate representation of the child.

Section 8 orders and divorce.

The duration of section 8 orders.

Preventing further litigation.

4. Court orders in favour of non-parents.

The scope of the present chapter.

Section 8 orders in favour of non-parents.

Special rules for non-parents’ applications.

The effect of a section 8 order.

Applications by children for section 8 orders.

Applications after adoption.

Applications by local authorities and voluntary organizations.

Other aspects of non-parental applications for section 8 orders.

Orders without applications.

Special guardianship orders.

5. Local authority support for children and families.

The scope of the present chapter.

Children in need.

The provision of services for children and families.

Assessment of the needs of individual children.

The general duty of the local authority: section 17(1).

The specific duties and powers in Schedule 2.

Assistance in kind and assistance in cash.

Day care for the under-fives and supervision of schoolchildren.

Charges for local authority services.

Co-operation between authorities.


Part III in practice.

Child protection and children in need.

6. Accommodating children under section 20.

Accommodation as a support service.

The powers and duties under section 20.

The relationship with section 17 accommodation.

The parental veto.

Can the provision of accommodation be demanded?

Does the child have a say?

The position when accommodation is provided.

Removal from accommodation.

Help on leaving accommodation.

The acquisition of control by the authority.

The acquisition of control by individuals.

7. Compulsory intervention on child protection grounds.


The three stages of policy development.

Section 47 child protection investigations.

Enquiries before an investigation: the initial assessment.

The relationship between section 47 and the children in need provisions.

Investigations into alleged sexual abuse.

Investigations during private law proceedings.

Court-ordered investigations under section 37.

8. Emergency protection orders and child assessment orders.


The emergency protection order.

The child assessment order.

CAO or EPO?.

9. Police powers.

The power of the police to act of their own motion.

Police applications for emergency protection orders.

Criminal investigations.

The role of the police in assisting officials.

Police involvement in the recovery of abducted or missing children.

10. Care orders.


Applicants for a care order.

The children concerned.

The grounds for a care order.

When an application can be made.

The discretion to apply for a care order.

The processing of a care order application.

The role of the court.

The legal effect of a care order.

The duration of a care order.

The making of other orders on a care order application.

Care order or supervision order?

Care order or residence order?

Interim care orders.


11. Supervision orders.


Matters on which the rules coincide with those governing care orders.

The legal effect of a supervision order.

Matters which may not be regulated by an order.

The duration of a supervision order.

Variation of the supervision order.

Interim supervision orders.

Obstruction of the social worker.

Supervision order or care order?

12. Courts and appeals against court decisions.

The concurrent jurisdiction principle.

The subordinate provisions.

Questions arising under the Human Rights Act 1998

A family court?

Appeals against court decisions.

13. Welfare reports, children’s guardians and CAFCASS.


Welfare reports.

Children’s guardians.

Separate representation for children in private law cases.

Referrals to CAFCASS by independent reviewing officers.

In-court conciliation in private law cases.

Post-contact order follow-up.

14. Wardship and the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court.


The inherent jurisdiction of the High Court.

Public law cases: the effect of section 100.

Private law cases.

The decline of the inherent jurisdiction.

15. Adoption.


Non-agency adoptions.

Agency adoptions.

Making section 8 orders in adoption proceedings.

Applications for section 8 orders following adoption.

16. Local authority foster carers.

The statutory definition.

The decision to use fostering.

The Fostering Services Regulations 2002.

The National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services.

Foster carer recruitment.

Limit on number of children.

Complaints from foster carers.

Applications for section 8 orders.

Applications for an adoption order.

Applications for special guardianship.


Appendix: The Children Act 2004.




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