Local Authority Documentation to be Filed with the Court

Posted on Sunday, 30th Aug, 2015 at 09:48:00 PM
The following documents must be attached to the application filed with the court on Day 1:

The social work Chronology;

The social work statement and Genogram;

Any current Assessment relating to the child and/or the family and friends of the child to which the social work statement refers and on which the local authority relies;

The Care Plan;

Index of Checklist documents.

Documents to be Served on the Other Parties (but not filed with the court)

On Day 2
the local authority must serve on the other parties (but must not file with the court unless expressly directed to do so) the application form and annex documents as set out above, together with the evidential checklist documents.

These are evidential and other documents which already exist on the local authorities files, including:

Previous court orders (including foreign orders) and judgments/reasons;
Any assessment materials relevant to the key issues, including capacity to litigate, Section 7 or Section 37 reports;

Single, joint or inter-agency reports, such as health, education, Home Office and Immigration Tribunal documents).

Documents to be Disclosed on Request by any Party

Decision-making records, including:

Records of key discussions with the family;

Key local authority minutes and records for the child;

Pre-existing Care Plans (e.g. Child in Need Plan, Looked After child plan and Child Protection Plan;

Letters before proceedings;

Any issued as to jurisdiction/international element should be flagged with the court.

Principles

In the revised Public Law Outline, both the filing and service of documents is more focused, with a concentration on what is relevant, central and key, rather than what is peripheral or historical. Local authority materials are expected to be much shorter than previously, and they should be more focused on analysis than on history and narrative. Even if there has been local authority involvement with the family extending over many years, both the social work Chronology and the summary of the background circumstances as set out in the social work statement must be kept appropriately short, focusing on the key significant historical events and concerns and rigorously avoiding all unnecessary detail.

Documents must be recent - restricted to the most recent, limited to those from the last two years. Documents need not be served or listed if they are older than two years before issue of the proceedings, unless reliance is placed on them in the local authorities evidence.

Documents must be focused and succinct.

The social work Chronology is a schedule containing:

A succinct summary of the length of involvement of the local authority with the family and in particular with the child;

A succinct summary of the significant dates and events in the childs life in chronological order, i.e. a running record up to the issue of the proceedings, providing such information under the following headings:

Serial number;
Date;
Event-detail;
Witness or document reference (where applicable).
The social work statement is to be limited to the following evidence:
Summary:
The order sought;

Succinct summary of reasons with reference as appropriate to the Welfare Checklist.
Family:
Family members and relationships especially the primary carers and significant adults / other children;
Genogram.
Threshold:
Precipitating events;
Background circumstances:
Summary of childrens services involvement. This must be cross-referenced to the Chronology;
Previous court orders and emergency steps;
Previous assessments.

Summary of significant harm and / or likelihood of significant harm which the local authority will seek to establish by evidence or concession;

Parenting capacity:
Assessment of childs needs;
Assessment of parental capability to meet needs;
Analysis of why there is a gap between parental capability and the childs needs;
Assessment of other significant adults who may be carers.
Child impact:
Wishes and feelings of the child(ren);
Timetable for the child;
Delay and timetable for the proceedings.
Permanence and contact:
Parallel planning;
Realistic placement options by reference to a welfare and proportionality analysis;
Contact framework.
Case management:
Evidence and assessments necessary and outstanding;

Any information about any persons litigation capacity, mental health issues, disabilities or vulnerabilities that is relevant to their capability to participate in the proceedings;
Case management proposals.

The local authority materials must be succinct, analytical and evidence-based. Assessment and analysis are crucial. They need to distinguish clearly between what is fact and what is professional evaluation, assessment, analysis and opinion, and between the general background and the specific matters relied on to establish threshold.

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