The following provides a selection of terms and phrases that those involved in child protection may encounter. A brief explanation is provided for each term.


Refers to a voluntary arrangement between a parent or someone with parental responsibility, and the Local Authority (or between a young person of sixteen or seventeen who is “in need” and the Local Authority) whereby the child or young person is looked after in a foster home, children’s home or other form of placement approved by the Local Authority


A statement of evidence in writing and on oath.


Appeal is the process by which another higher Court or body is asked to reconsider the decision of the lower Court or body. All parties have an equal right to appeal provided that the grounds exist. Agencies and individuals may wish to take their own legal advice to establish whether or not grounds for appeal exist.

Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB)

A local authority-wide forum involving all agencies participating in child protection to determine multi-agency procedures in the investigation of child abuse, to monitor those procedures and promote co-operation and inter-agency training. Note that, in some parts of the country, LSCBs cover the areas of two or more adjacent local authorities.

Authorised Person

In relation to child protection, and care proceedings only the Local Authority and the NSPCC are authorised to bring proceedings. The Secretary of State may authorise others.

Care Co-ordinator

Plays a key role in ensuring that people with a mental health problem receive the help they need following assessment.

Care Programme Approach (CPA)

Designed to ensure that people in contact with specialist mental health services: receive an assessment; have a care plan; have a named mental health professional; have a review of their care

Child/Young Person

A person under the age of 18 (there are exceptions to this in the Children Act 1989, Schedule 1, paragraphs 2,6,16).

Child Assessment Order

This Order is obtainable only to enable an assessment of the state of a child’s or young person’s health, development or living conditions when it is suspected that the child or young person is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, but where the child or young person is not thought to be at immediate risk and the carers or others responsible for the child or young person have refused to co-operate.

The Order is made by a Court and lasts for 7 (seven) days from an agreed date and requires the production of the child or young person for assessment. Only an authorised person can apply.

Child Minder

A person looking after one or more children a day for reward for more than two hours in one day for reward.

Children in Need

A child or young person is in need if:

  • they are unlikely to achieve or maintain, or have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for them of services by a Local Authority under this part (Part III of the Children Act 1989);
  • their health or development is likely to be significantly impaired without the provision for them of such services; or
  • they are disabled.

Child Protection Plan

A plan devised jointly by the agencies concerned in a child’s or young person’s welfare to co-ordinate services they provide. Its aim is to ensure that the support offered meets the child’s or young person’s needs so far as this is practicable and that duplication and rivalry are avoided. The plan should specify goals to be achieved, resources and services to be provided, the allocation of responsibilities and arrangements for monitoring and review.

Complaints Procedure

The procedure that Agencies must set up to hear representations regarding the provision of services under Part III of the Act from a number of persons, including the child or young person, the parents and “such other person as the Local Authority consider has a sufficient interest in the child’s or young person’s welfare to warrant their representations being considered by them”. The procedure must contain an independent element.

Concurrent Jurisdiction

Enables the High Court, County Court and Family Proceedings (Magistrates) Court to hear all Proceedings under the Act and enables all Proceedings involving the child or young person and family to be brought together in one Court.


Between a child or young person and another person includes visits, stays, outings and communication by letter or telephone. Under S.34 of the Act the Local Authority is under a duty to allow a child or young person in care reasonable contact with a number of persons, including the child’s or young person’s parents.

Contact Order

An Order “requiring the person with whom a child or young person lives, or is to live, to allow the child or young person to visit or stay with the person named in the Order, or for that person and the child or young person otherwise to have contact with each other” (S.8).


Children and Families Court Advisory and Support Service – provides independent advice and investigation in Child Care Proceedings on behalf of the Court.

Day Care

Someone who looks after one or more children under the age of 8 on non-domestic premises for more than 2 hours in any day. In relation to the Local Authority provision of day care, it refers to any form of supervised activity for children during the day.

Designated Officer

A Police Officer of the rank of Inspector appointed for the purposes of the Children Act 1989 by the Chief Officer of Police. When a child or young person is taken into Police Protection the designated officer has a duty to inquire into the case and to do what is reasonable in all the circumstances for the purpose of safeguarding or protecting the child’s or young person’s welfare.


(in relation to children in need) – means “physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development”.

Duty to Investigate

Where a Local Authority has “reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives or is found within their area is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm”, it must make such enquiries as it considers necessary to enable it to decide whether it should take any action to safeguard or promote the child’s or young person’s welfare.

Emergency Protection Order

An Order under S.44 which the Court can make if it is satisfied that a child or young person is likely to suffer significant harm, or where enquiries are being made with respect to the child or young person and they are being frustrated by the unreasonable refusal of access to the child or young person. The Order gives the applicant parental responsibility for the child or young person, for a stated period of time.


Is the material which a Court or Hearing uses to reach its decision. Before the Court, evidence is usually in the form of written, signed statements in the form approved by the Court. This may be amplified by oral evidence on oath delivered during the Hearing. Hearsay (or second hand) evidence is acceptable in Children Act Proceedings in certain situations.

Family Assistance Orders

An Order under S.16 requiring either a Probation Officer or a Social Worker to “advise, assist and befriend” a named person for a period of six months or less.
The named person can be the child’s or young person’s parents, guardian, those with whom the child or young person lived or who had contact with the child or young person, and the child or young person themselves.

Family Centre

A centre which the child or young person and parents, and any other person looking after the child or young person (eg a foster carer) can attend for occupational and recreational activities, advice, guidance and counselling, and accommodation whilst receiving such advice, guidance or counselling.

Family Court Advisor

A person appointed by the Court to investigate a child’s or young person’s circumstances and to report to the Court. The FCA can appoint a solicitor for the child or young person. Usually appointed in public law cases or where there are Child Protection issues.

Family Court Reporter

An officer appointed to provide a report for the Court about the child or young person and the child’s or young person’s family situation and background in private law cases. The Family Court Reporter will be employed by CAFCASS. The Court may request either the Local Authority or the Family Court Reporter to prepare a report [S.7(1)].

Family Proceedings Court

Court at the level of the Magistrate’s Court to hear Proceedings under the Children Act 1989. The Magistrates are selected from a panel, known as the Family Panel, and are specially trained.

Foster Care Agreement

The written agreement the Local Authority (or other approving agency) makes with foster carers at the time of their approval which sets out the terms and conditions of approval and basis for partnership between the Local Authority and carer.

Gillick Competent

The stage at which a child under 16 years is deemed to be capable of making informed decisions about matters, eg contraception, consent to treatment or interview. It is unlikely that a child below the age of 13 or 14 years would be deemed to be Gillick Competent.


Local Authorities are required to act in accordance with guidance issued by the Secretary of State. However, guidance does not have the full force of the law but is intended as a series of good practice statements and may be quoted or used in Court Proceedings.


Ill treatment or the impairment of health or development. Ill-treatment Includes sexual and emotional abuse.

Independent Visitor

Someone appointed by the Local Authority to visit, advise and befriend a child or young person being Looked After.


An Order made by the Court prohibiting an act or requiring its cessation. Under the Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1976 the County Court has the power to make injunctions. Injunctions can either be interlocutory (ie temporary pending the outcome of the full Hearing) or perpetual.

Interim Order

A Care or Supervision Order made by the Court placing the child or young person in the care of the Local Authority or under supervision. There are provisions as to its duration (Interim Care Orders usually lasting for a period of eight weeks or less).

Investigative Interview

The preferred term for an interview conducted with a child or young person as part of an assessment following concerns that the child or young person may have been abused (most notably cases of suspected sexual abuse).

Judicial Review

An Order from the Divisional Court reviewing an administrative decision (including a Local Authority decision). The Divisional Court usually does not substitute its own decision but sends the matter back to the decision making body for reconsideration.

Key Worker

A Social Worker allocated specific responsibility for a particular child or young person.

Looked After

A child or young person is Looked After when they are in the care of the Local Authority (by order of a Court) or is being provided with accommodation (under a voluntary agreement) by the Local Authority.

Illness Induction Syndrome (Fabricated Illness/Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy)

When a carer systematically fabricates information about a child’s or young person’s health or intentionally makes the child or young person ill, with the purpose of gaining access to medical treatment and the inner circle of care in hospitals. The carer will often seek recognition of, or public adulation for, their devotion and care of an apparently sick child or young person.

Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery is the term used within the UK and is defined within the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The Act categorises offences of Slavery, Servitude and Forced or Compulsory Labour and Human Trafficking (the of which comes from the Palermo Protocol).

These crimes include holding a person in a position of slavery , servitude forced or compulsory labour, or facilitating their travel with the intention of exploiting them soon after.
Although human trafficking often involves an international cross-border element, it is also possible to be a victim of modern slavery within your own country.

It is possible to be a victim even if consent has been given to be moved.

Children cannot give consent to being exploited therefore the element of coercion or deception does not need to be present to prove an offence.

Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) plays a central role in leading the NCA's fight against serious and organised crime

Official Solicitor

An officer of the Supreme Court who acts on behalf of children and young people in certain cases. When representing a child or young person the Official Solicitor may act both as a Solicitor and as a Guardian ad Litem.

Paramountcy Principle

The principle that the welfare of the child or young person is the first and foremost consideration in Proceedings concerning children and young people.

Parental Responsibility

All the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child or young person has in relation to the child or young person and their property. Parental responsibility can be exercised by persons who are not the child’s or young person’s biological parent and can be shared among a number of persons. It can be acquired by agreement or by Court Order.


Parties to Proceedings are entitled to attend the Hearing, present their case, examine witnesses, appeal and be eligible for legal aid. Children and young people will automatically qualify, as will the Local Authority, anyone with parental responsibility, and the Family Court Advisor appointed by the Court. Others may acquire party status or make representations.


Joint working between professionals, carers and children or young people with a view to achieving identified child/young people centred goals through clearly defined and jointly agreed plans.

Child Protection duties may place some limitations at certain points in time on aspects of partnership. The objective of any partnership between family and professionals must be the protection and welfare of the child or young person.


Primary Care Trusts

Permanency Planning

A process to obtain for a child or young person a permanent, stable and secure upbringing, either within their original family or by providing satisfactory alternative parenting (eg with foster carers, adoptive parents or other extended family members). Its aims is to avoid long periods of insecurity or repeated disruptions in children’s/young people’s lives.

Placement Agreements

Sets out the agreed arrangements for the care each individual child or young person who is placed in Local Authority care and confirms what is expected from the carers and the placing Local Authority

Police Protection

The power the Police have to detain a child or young person or prevent them removal for up to 72 hours where they believe the child or young person would otherwise suffer significant harm. There are duties on the Police to consult the child or young person (where this is practicable) and to notify various persons of their action – eg the child’s/young person’s parents and the Local Authority.

Preliminary Hearing

A Hearing to clarify matters in dispute, to agree evidence, and to give directions as to the timetable of the case and the disclosure of evidence.

Presumption of No Order

The principle that the Court must be satisfied that the making of an Order is better for the child or young person than no Order at all.

Prohibited Steps Order

An Order that “no step which could be taken by a parent in meeting his parental responsibility for a child or young person, and which is of a kind specified in the Order, shall be taken without the consent of the Court”

Recovery Order

An Order which the Court can make when there is reason to believe that a child or young person who is in care, the subject of an Emergency Protection Order, or in Police Protection, has been unlawfully taken or kept away from the responsible person, or has run away or is staying away from the responsible person or is missing. The effect of the Recovery Order is to require any person who is in a position to do so to produce the child or young person on request, to authorise the removal of the child or young person by any authorised person, and to require any person who has information as to the child’s/young person’s whereabouts to disclose that information, if asked to do so, to a Constable or an Officer of the Court.


A “safe house” which is legally able to provide care for children and young people who have run away from home or Local Authority care. However, a Recovery Order can be obtained in relation to a child or young person who has run away to a refuge.


The supplementary powers and duties issued by the Secretary of State under the authority of the Act. These cover a wide range of issues from secure accommodation to the procedure for considering representations (including complaints) and have the full force of law.

Responsible Person

In relation to a supervised child or young person “any person who has parental responsibility for the child, or any other person with whom the child is living”. With their consent the responsible person can be required to comply with certain obligations.

Reunification (Reconstruction)

The process of working with children, young people and parents, providing support and resources to enable children and young people to return home and be brought up within their own family.


The Local Authority must conduct regular reviews of children and young persons they are looking after. These reviews provide the opportunity to consider progress and any problems and changes in circumstances, and to resolve difficulties, set new goals and plan for the future. They are usually attended by the child/young person, parents, carers and others with significant responsibilities for the child/young person.


Rules of Court made by the Lord Chancellor lay down the procedural rules that govern the operation of the Courts under the Children Act 1989.

Schedule 1 Offenders

Schedule 1 refers to Schedule 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

Section 8 Orders

The four orders contained in The Children Act 1989 which, to varying degrees, regulate the exercise of parental responsibility (Residence, Contact, Prohibited Steps and Specific Issues Orders).

Secure Accommodation

Refers to the restriction of liberty of children and young people in certain forms of accommodation. Regulations made by the Secretary of Stage govern the circumstances where liberty can be restricted and the role of the Court in authorising such restrictions.

Significant Harm (see also Harm)

Actual significant harm or the likelihood of this forms the basis for child protection action and Care Proceedings. The harm (ill treatment, impairment of health or development) must be significant. Where the question of whether harm suffered by a child or young person is significant turns on the child’s/young person’s health or development, their health or development shall be compared with that which could reasonably be expected of a similar child or young person. In all cases the harm or likelihood of harm must be attributable either to the care actually given (or likely to be given) to the child or young person, or to the child/young person being beyond parental control.

Specific Issues Order

An Order giving directions for the purpose of determining a specific question which has arisen, or which may arise in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child or young person.

Supervision Order

An Order under Section 31(1)(b) putting a child or young person under the supervision of a designated Local Authority or of a Probation Officer. The Order lasts for one year with a possible extension. The maximum duration is 3 years. Interim Orders may be made for 8 weeks (subsequently 4 weeks).


The Court is bound by the principle of avoiding delay, as this is presumed to be harmful to the child/young person. It has the power to draw up a timetable and give directions for the conduct of the case in any Proceedings in which the making of a Section 8 Order arises, and in applications for Care and Supervision Orders.

Ward of Court

A child or young person who is under the protection of the High Court, from whom consent must be sought for any important decisions. The Local Authority can no longer use this route to seek a Care Order in respect of a child or young person.

Welfare Checklist

A checklist of seven points to which the Courts must refer in any Section 8 or Care and Supervision Proceedings.

Welfare Report

The Court has the power to request a report on any question in respect of a child or young person under the Act.

Written Agreement

The agreement arrived at between the Local Authority and the parents of children or young people for whom it is providing services. These agreements are part of the partnership model that is seen as good practice under the Act. A written agreement must be made between the Local Authority and parents whenever a child or young person is to be Looked After by the Local Authority (both short and long term) and health of the child is the overriding factor in the planning and carrying out of CVS. The primary aim of carrying out CVS is to ascertain whether the child is having illness induced, in situations where a multi-agency decision has been taken at a Strategy Discussion that its use is justified. Of secondary importance is the obtaining of criminal evidence. In any event, the use of CVS must be proportionate to the aim to be achieved. Legal advice should be sought in all cases