Local authority duties

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ChA 1989 (or Children Act 1989) provides for local authority social services departments to be responsible for making sure that children are safe and appropriately cared for by their parents or the person looking after them. Local authorities also have a general duty of care to promote the wellbeing of children in their area and are responsible for investigating any child in their area where they have cause to suspect the child is suffering or is likely to suffer, significant harm.

Typically, a local authority may start these investigations for any of the following reasons:

  1. when directed to do so by the court
  2. when the child has persistently failed to comply with an education supervision order
  3. when it suspects that a child in its area is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm
  4. when a child is in police protection
  5. when a child assessment order has been made
  6. when an emergency protection order has been made—this is an order to protect the child from harm by removal from a place or the requirement to stay in a specific place

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