The Resolutions Model: getting a child back from care

The Resolutions Model: getting a child back from care

Child Law Team

Sarah Hindle – Senior Associate Solicitor – Head of Children Law Team

Sadly, children are often taken into care after they, or their brother or sister, have suffered a serious injury. If it is subsequently found by the family court that one of the parents caused that injury then obviously it is unlikely that the children will be returned to their parents.

But in certain circumstances it is possible that the child could be returned, even if the parent denies causing the injury, as a recent family court case demonstrates.

 

The Resolutions Model

The case concerned a child (referred to as ‘Jane’ – not her real name) who was born in May 2020. The day after Jane was born the local authority applied for a care order. The reason they did this was that there had previously been care proceedings relating to Jane’s older sister, in which the court had found that the sister had suffered injuries at the hands of one of her parents.

When the care proceedings relating to Jane started her parents, who by then had split up, continued to deny that they had had any involvement in the sister’s injuries.The Resolutions Model

The local authority commissioned a report from an independent social worker. The report concluded that, in view of what had happened to the sister, neither parent could look after a child safely.

And all parties to the proceedings agreed that the facts of the case meant that the threshold had been met for the court to make a care order in relation to Jane.

But the lawyer for the mother suggested that the court may consider that the ‘Resolutions Model’ may be appropriate for Jane and her mother. The Resolutions Model is the name given to an arrangement whereby a child may be returned to their parent, despite the fact that the parent denies causing an injury to the child or its sibling.

It is important to recognise, however, that this can only happen if the circumstances are right. In particular, it has been suggested that in order to determine whether it might be made safe enough for a child to return to their parent five factors need to be considered:

1. Do the parents acknowledge that professionals have legitimate concerns given the medical evidence and any finding of the Court?

2. Are they prepared to work in partnership with professionals in an open and honest manner?

3. Are they willing to examine the way they care for their child and be willing to make changes to care routines in order to help ensure their child’s safety?

4. Are they willing to accept a high level of professional support and monitoring of their child’s welfare?

5. Is there a credible support network composed of safe extended family members or friends, who are willing and able to be involved in helping to ensure the child’s future safety?Family Law Office shot

In this case the judge found that the Resolutions Model was appropriate, and that Jane could be returned to her mother. The reasons for this included that the parents had separated, the mother had come to accept that the sister’s injuries had been inflicted rather than accidental and, above all, the mother had a large and supportive family. As the judge said: “It may be possible to use the entire family and support network to build a protective regime around the child to ensure the child’s future safety.”

Accordingly, the court made a care order, on the basis of a plan that Jane should be reunited with her mother. As part of this plan, Jane and her mother would be supervised when together, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, by five family members and a close family friend, operating on a shift pattern.

Obviously, the Resolutions Model is only going to be appropriate in a small number of cases. However, it is an indication of the lengths that the family court is prepared to go to to avoid separating a child from his or her parents.

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