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1.4.12 Working with Children Subject of Supervision Orders


Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline

This chapter was added to the manual in September 2018.


  1. Introduction
  2. The Scope of a Supervision Order
  3. Management and Review of Children Subject of a Supervision Order
  4. Interim Supervision Orders

1. Introduction

Under Section 31 (2) of the Children Act 1989, on the conclusion of care proceedings, the local authority can be granted a Supervision Order. A Supervision Order has the same threshold criteria as a Care Order, but the two orders are completely different in application. A Care Order gives the local authority Parental Responsibility for a child. A Supervision Order does not, but it places a responsibility on the local authority to “advise, assist and befriend” the child and by extension, the people with whom the child lives.

A Supervision Order is designed to allow the local authority to keep a reasonable amount of control over the child where there has been harm or a risk of harm but not enough continuing harm to warrant a Care Order.

A plan as to how a Supervision Order is to be implemented will be submitted to the court during proceedings. Children and young people who are subject of a Supervision Order will have a plan in place to ensure that any agreed actions by the family and professionals are clear and outcome focused. The plan should be specific and purposeful in its aim to reduce risk and build on strengths to support the child in their care arrangement.

The court can impose certain conditions on a child subject to a Supervision Order as outlined in Schedule 3 (sections 35, 36) Children Act 1989.

2. The Scope of a Supervision Order

A Supervision Order, made under S35 of the Children Act 1989, allows the local authority to appoint a ‘supervisor’ who will ‘advise, assist and befriend the supervised child’ and take whatever steps are necessary to make the supervision order work. Supervision orders are normally made for six months or 12 months at a time.

Children Act 1989, Section 35
Supervision orders.

  1. While a supervision order is in force it shall be the duty of the supervisor—
    1. To advise, assist and befriend the supervised child;
    2. To take such steps as are reasonably necessary to give effect to the order; and
    3. Where —
      1. The order is not wholly complied with; or
      2. The supervisor considers that the order may no longer be necessary,
      3. To consider whether or not to apply to the court for its variation or discharge.
  2. Parts I and II of Schedule 3 make further provision with respect to supervision orders.

3. Management and Review of Children Subject of a Supervision Order

Cases are allocated to social workers, who will visit, advise, assist and befriend the child, support the family to ensure that the action plan to improve the welfare of the child within the home is carried out. These cases are generally managed under the Child In Need framework and will follow the government guidance in relation to the frequency of reviews. However, cases are considered on a case by case basis for management under the Child Protection framework, and it may be necessary to consider a Child Protection Conference if the level of concern or risk begins to escalate. (See also Child in Need and Reviews Procedure).

It is expected that the frequency of home visits within the first 3 months should be fortnightly.
The child/ren should be seen and spoken to alone.

There is an internal case review at 3 months, chaired by the Team Manager. The Team Manager will consider the progress of the safety/support plan and the visiting schedule. 

After the 3 month review, home visits should take place at least monthly during the period of the supervision order. However the Team Manager can instruct more frequent visits to continue at the 3 month review.

N.B. for a 6 months Supervision Order, the 3 month review will be carried out by a Service Manager who will consider whether to end or return to court to extend the Supervision Order or seek a Care Order.

At 6 months, a second review of progress is completed by the Team Manager who will consider the progress of the safety/support plan and visiting schedule. An updating assessment is completed. Both the assessment and the 6 month review are informed by the outcome of the 2nd CIN network review meeting.

At 9 months, there is a final review of the SO, chaired by the Service Manager. Consideration should be given to inviting a legal representative to this meeting. The Service Manager will review the progress and consider whether to:

  • End the Supervision Order on expiry of the order; or,
  • Return to court to extend the Supervision Order or seek a Care Order.

The decision from this review will inform the actions at the final CIN network meeting. If concerns have reduced the children may be stepped down to Early Help provision or the case may be closed.

All Child in Need/Child Protection meetings and Supervision Order reviews should have clear minutes available to ensure that actions are clearly understood by the child/young person, their family and professionals and the plan on Mosaic should be updated after each meeting has taken place. Professionals and family members should be sent a record of the meeting including a SMART plan.

4. Interim Supervision Orders

In some situations a child going into Care Proceedings may be subject of a Child Protection Plan, and then an Interim Supervision Order made. If the risks are high and the safety/stability of the arrangements are uncertain it may be necessary to continue the CP plan after the Interim Supervision Order is granted. The social worker should consult with the CP Chair and decisions will be made on a case by case basis.