Court of Appeal decision - S-F
Sheldon Price recently represented a Mother in proceedings in the Court of Appeal – S-F (A Child)  EWCA Civ964.
Sheldon specialises in Care and Adoption proceedings representing parents, relatives, Guardians and Children in proceedings where Social Services are involved.
In this case the Court of Appeal indicated that good practice had not been followed. The Court of Appeal gave a reminder that if it was proposed that a child be adopted in preference to long term fostering then this needed to be supported by evidence and an analysis of the welfare principles as applied to the child concerned.
The Court of Appeal emphasised the importance of the ‘permanence report’. The Permeance Report has to contain an analysis of the options for the future care of the child and why adoption is the preferred option. The Local Authority’s adoption agency decision must also be recorded in the child’s care record. The Court gave a reminder that the permeance report and the Local Authority’s record of the decision, which contain the required analysis and reasoning which is necessary to support an application for a placement order, are disclosable documents and should be scrutinised by the children’s Guardian and are susceptible of cross examination.
The Court observed that it is poor practice not to file the documents with the court because these documents record the pros and cons of each of the realistic care options and the social work reasoning behind the local authority’s decision to apply for a placement order.
In this case the Judge had preferred long term fostering to adoption and the Court of Appeal did not seek to alter the decision as it was accepted that the child needed contact to his parents.
Sheldon commented, ‘The case provides a useful guidance for future cases where Local Authorities are seeking an adoption order in respect of a child.’
A note of the judgement can be found here http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed178832