If it is unsafe for your child to remain at home
It is sometimes advisable for a sexually exploited child to be accommodated away from the family home (sometimes out of the local area) in order to protect them from perpetrators. Depending on the circumstances they might be accommodated in foster care, a residential unit or secure accommodation.
Voluntary Accommodation (Children Act 1989, s.20)
Children’s social care can accommodate your child in the care system with your agreement or the agreement of anyone else who has parental responsibility. If your child is 16 or 17 they can request to go into s.20 accommodation. Sometimes perpetrators encourage young people to seek such accommodation to further break down family relationships and other social support networks. If this is the case, you need to officially notify social care of your opinion and evidence it if possible.
Children’s social care must create a care plan for your child before, or immediately after they are accommodated and you should be asked if you (or your child if they are 16 or 17) agree to this. The care plan should state that you are able to end the arrangement at any time and set out how this can be done.
Removal and Accommodation of Children by Police (Children Act 1989, s.46)
Where the police have reasonable cause to believe that a child would be likely to suffer significant harm, they may remove the child to suitable accommodation and keep the child there or take such steps as are reasonable to ensure that the child’s removal from any hospital, or other place, in which the child is then being accommodated is prevented.
The child can be accommodated in this way for a maximum of 72 hours.
Emergency Protection Order (Children Act 1989, s.44)
If there is reason to believe that a child is likely to suffer significant harm when following a court order, the local authority or person authorised by the authority can remove the child at any time to accommodation provided by or on behalf of the local authority. They can also prevent the child’s removal from any hospital, or other place, in which the child was being accommodated immediately before the making of the order.
An Emergency Protection Order lasts for eight days and can be renewed for a further seven days.
Care Order (Children Act 1989, s.33)
A Care Order can be made by the court if your child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm and the harm, or likelihood of harm, is attributable to the care given to the child, or likely to be given to the child if the order were not made, or the child’s being beyond parental control.
A Care Order cannot be made for a child who has reached the age of 17 and a Care Order stops once a child reaches 18.
Secure Accommodation Order (Children Act 1989, s.25)
This would be appropriate if your child has a history of absconding and is likely to abscond from any other form of accommodation; and where your child is likely to suffer significant harm if they were to abscond. If your child is under the age of 13, the approval of the Secretary of State must be sought for the placement.
Parental Responsibility is defined as the ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.’
This means that you are responsible for the care and wellbeing of your child and it’s up to you to make important decisions about your child’s life.
What happens if my child is accommodated by children’s social care with my agreement?
You as a parent (and anyone else with parental responsibility) keep your parental responsibility. Children’s social care does not have parental responsibility for your child when your child is accommodated.
What happens if my child is the subject of a Care Order, Emergency Protection Order or Secure Accommodation Order?
You and others with parental responsibility keep your parental responsibility but children’s social care also gets parental responsibility. This means that legally they can override your wishes and the wishes of others with parental responsibility when the order is in force.