Statutory intervention is considered when the child is believed to be at risk, and involves a detailed investigation by a social worker or designated child protection organisation. If the child is believed to be at risk, they will be removed to a place of safety, which could include a baby or children's home or foster care. When considering the best alternative legal placement for a child, the option chosen should be the most empowering and least restricting solution for the child.
Alternative care placements include Kinship Care, Foster Care, Institutional Care or Adoption, and each are explored in detail, with relevant considerations, in the Courage Toolkit (Illustrated Below). Adoption should be prioritized for young, orphaned and abandoned children, with no possibility of reunification with family. Siblings should ideally not be separated in any placement option considered and where possible, and appropriate from an age perspective, children should participate in the decision making process of their alternative care placement. . The primary aim is to limit the potential losses and trauma of a child when deciding on the most suitable placement option. The template below will help you to think through what is in the best interests of a child, when it comes to alternative care and placement options and is based on the guidelines of the Children's Act (2005).
Before parents or a child can appear in court during a statutory intervention, they should be counselled and prepared for the engagement. The court will make a legal finding based on the formal investigation and report prepared by the social worker and associated child protection officers, such as the police or medical practitioners. After the court appearance and legal finding, the child will either be returned to their family, where family reconstruction will take place, or they will be removed from their parent's care on a permanent basis. This could involve the removal of parental rights, or it could involve the formal justice system if criminal abuse has been identified.