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Child Assessment Orders

Child Assessment Orders

SKU: 10.23
  • Advice

    A child assessment order (CAO) allows the local authority to assess the circumstances of a child over some time. Social workers may want a child they are concerned about to undergo a medical, psychiatric or social work assessment. Parents of the child will be informed that a child assessment order is being applied. It is rare for the local authority to apply for a CAO, but it is necessary in cases where parents of a child are not allowing a child to be medically assessed. An application for an assessment order is usually made if there is no immediate risk to the child but where the local authority believe that refusal for a medical could lead to detrimental delays in discovering evidence of sexual abuse.


    Purpose of a CAO

    A CAO allows the local authority to conduct a brief assessment of a child if they have concerns that the child is suffering from child abuse. The assessment may take place over a maximum of seven days. The assessment will enable the local authority to know the current state of the child’s health and development. After assessing the child, the local authority will be able to decide if further steps need to be taken to ensure the child’s safety. CAO’s are usually used for cases where the child is more likely to suffer harm in the long term. 


    Actions are taken before applying for a CAO

    The local authority must try other ways to get the parents to cooperate with the investigation before applying for a CAO. Usually, the social workers involved will use a child protection conference procedure. 


    Making an application for a child assessment order

    The local authority must complete and file the following:

    • Form C1;
    • Supplementary form C16;
    • A detailed assessment plan which will include the assessment start date if it is granted; and
    • A social statement which covers the following: 
    • Family history;
    • The suspected harm;
    • The assessments carried out till date;
    • What information is still needed;
    • An explanation of why the information is needed;
    • A summary of an assessment plan;
    • If the child needs to be removed from the family home, an explanation of reasoning needs to be provided;
    • Contact arrangements for the child if they are taken out of the family home for more than one day;
    • Analysis of the consequences the assessment will have on the child;
    • Date of when the report from the assessment will be completed;
    • An explanation of why the local authority believes they will not be able to complete the assessment without the order; and a
    • Welfare checklist.

    The application will be made at the local family court. 


    Can a child refuse to be assessed?

    If the child in question is of sufficient age and is competent enough to understand the circumstances and make an informed decision, they may refuse to be assessed. A refusal of assessment will be taken into consideration by the court; however, it will raise a concern with the local authority which could lead to an application for a care order being made. 


    Challenging a child assessment order

    As a parent, if you don’t agree with the order, you may be able to make an application to the court to challenge it. 



    As a parent, you may not be satisfied with the way the local authority is dealing with your child’s case, you may make a complaint.


    If the child is suspected of being the victim of sexual abuse

    Sometimes parents/guardians do not wish to allow their child to be put through the trauma and humiliation of being checked in their genital area, no matter how professional the medical team is. The emotional trauma may make the child depressed, anxious and leave them mentally scarred. If a medical examination is essential for the police to continue to seek an assailant to prosecute then parents need to balance the different factors involved, they should also consider whether such an examination is being done as a matter of procedure (tick box exercise) or what could it prove/disprove.


    For instance, if the accusation was for “touching” then what evidence would be left behind that would show up at an examination. Lestons are not in any way condoning abuse, it is wrong on every level, however, we would question the benefits of a futile medical examination that would bring pointless trauma and upset. If you need to counter the application to the court which would force your child to endure this examination then you would need to open a case using the link at the top of this page. Your caseworker would seek to appoint you professional help to counter the claim for the order in the family court.


    Wherever possible we would keep your costs within our standard charge, however, if a specialist is required, such as a professional child psychologist etc then their charges may be more than our standard charge (these are known as disbursements), we would always guide and check with you before accepting any such invoices on your behalf.


    How we can help

    The process of obtaining a CAO can be difficult for all involved, the governance of the children can be a serious sticking point as it is not uncommon not just for each parent to want full custody, but also guardians, grandparents and so on. We would ask both sides to meet with a third-party independent family advisor to fulfil the courts requirement for Advanced Dispute Resolution. The advisor will work with all parties and decide what is best for the children.


    Please note the driver in this will be the children themselves, they will be asked privately what solution they would like. It is then hoped that each adult will agree to their wishes. As in every negotiation there needs to be some give and take. Ultimately if there is an impasse then the court will decide. In regard to the third-party independent family advisor please note we make no commission from these referrals.


    To gain our assistance you need to open a case, this is done by taking advantage of our free consultation service, activated by the link at the top of the page, should you wish to start a case the caseworker will send you the suitable payment link.


    Please note your caseworker can only give generic advice, their role is to prepare your details for handling by our appointed financial advisor and to act as your point of contact, they will also issue you with your Password and PIN, these will be needed to log onto your client dashboard. From your dashboard you will be able to manage and view every aspect of your case, upload documents, images, files etc.

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