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Jersey Family Court Advisory Service Operating Framework

Illustration showing a group of people

The purpose of the Operating Framework

"Children and young people should be at the centre of all proceedings"

Family Justice Young People's Board, National Charter for child inclusive family justice.


The Operating Framework sets out how the Jersey Family Court Advisory Service (JFCAS) works. It helps us to provide a consistent service to children and families in Jersey, with a focus on continuous improvement. Our vision is to achieve positive change for children that continues long after family court proceedings are over. To achieve this, we must shine a strong light on children's needs, and our recommendations to court should play a part in helping children's lives to improve.

Who we are and what we do

The Jersey Family Court Advisory Service (JFCAS) operates as part of the Jersey Probation and After-Care Service, under the governance of the Probation Board. Our remit is to be the voice of children in family court cases throughout Jersey. We aim to understand each child's daily lived experience, particularly in their journey through the care system in a public law case, or through the impact on them of a dispute between their parents in a private law case.

JFCAS' professionally qualified social work practitioners, called JFCAS officers, work exclusively in the family court, at the court's direction. Examples of proceedings where JFCAS will be involved include: 

  • when children are the subject of an application by The Minister for Children and Education ('the Children's Service') for care or supervision of a child, or to place a child in secure accommodation (public law). In these instances, our officers act as 'Children's Guardians'
  • when parents who are separating or divorcing are unable to agree on arrangements for their children, such as where they will live and/or who they will spend time with (private law). In private law, our officers act as Court Welfare Officers (CWOs)
  • when children are subjects of an application for an adoption order, our officers assess this and act as a 'Guardian ad Litem'

JFCAS act independently of all other parties in a case. Our work has to clearly show children's needs and identify what those around them can do to make children's lives better.

JFCAS follows the model set up by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) in the UK. One of their predecessor services the children's guardian service came into being in 1984 following a groundswell of concern about Maria Colwell, a seven year old girl killed in 1973 after she had returned home from foster parents. The risks she faced were neither properly assessed nor independently evaluated. Similarly, research and serious case reviews show us that some private law cases also carry the highest possible level of risk (United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child UNCRC Article 19). Our practice requires continuous risk awareness. 

Our services are rooted in the Jersey legal framework and local, UK and international best practice that has been built up over generations to recognise and to help vulnerable children. Whilst we have to be aware of current trends in society, which may run ahead of legislation, we cannot depart from our remit in law. We can only help children who are involved in a family court case.

JFCAS' services are free to service users. Our officers are some of the most experienced and expert social workers in Jersey with at least 3 to 5 years' post qualifying experience. We also employ less experienced social workers (generally, but not exclusively, those who have just finished their first year of post qualifying practice) on a 2 year secondment development pathway to gain the experience and expertise necessary to qualify as a JFCAS officer in private law.

JFCAS works with other professionals, such as lawyers, social workers, police officers and health and education professionals. Joint working lies at the heart of the family justice system in which we are proud to play our part.

JFCAS officers are appointed under Article 75 of the Children (Jersey) Law 2002. However, the law in Jersey says little else about the roles of Guardians and CWO's. In carrying out this role, JFCAS officers therefore follow UK best practice, which is based on legislation which is more detailed than we currently have in Jersey. This goes beyond assisting and befriending, and is about safeguarding the interests of the child, and conducting a full investigation of the case.

JFCAS officers and managers need to be aware of, and understand, all relevant legislation and regulations. They must also keep up to date with relevant case law in Jersey and the UK, holding fast to the enduring importance of the welfare of the child principle, whatever the nature of the application or case. 

This framework is based upon the model used by our UK counterparts, Cafcass, which can be accessed on their website. We work collaboratively with Cafcass. The Operating Framework reflects the right of children, as set out in the UNCRC to be heard and represented in judicial proceedings which affect them.

We were inspected by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) in 2019.

Inspection of the Jersey Family Court Advisory Service from Ofsted

Our practice was deemed to be of a high standard, but our challenge is to implement the recommendations identified and strive to be better still. We aim to be a secure learning base for our JFCAS officers, in the same way we aim to help families to become a secure base for children.

Proportionate Working

Resources are scarce and finite and must be used proportionately. At the time of writing demand pressures are at record levels and we aim to ensure that we provide a consistent, high quality service. In all our work, JFCAS officers uphold proportionate working principles, which are as follows:

  • be clear about the 'necessary' work only JFCAS can do
  • play our part in 'making cases smaller', to deepen the court's understanding of how best to help a child in the shortest possible timescale, by supporting active judicial case management
  • effectively target our interventions to add the maximum possible value to positive outcomes for children (and project manage our involvement in cases through good case planning)
  • intervene strategically in cases, especially at pivotal points. Doing this well can add great value
  • help to bring cases to the earliest possible conclusion on behalf of the child, ensuring that their best interests are considered at all times

Working with children and families

At JFCAS, we put the child at the heart of all our involvement in each case, from beginning to end. We strengthen the child's world by seeing each case through their eyes and experiences, and reducing factors that worry or upset them. We find out what is happening in a family and try to take steps to make the situation better for the child.

The voice of the child

  • hearing and conveying the child's voice is the most important part of our role. It is the thread that runs through everything we do and must inform all our work and recommendations
  • depending on the child's age, developmental stage or situation, the JFCAS officer should see the child alone, ideally in a neutral setting, on a sufficient number of occasions, (proportionate to the issues in each case). This ensures they have heard and understood the voice of the child, what the child is asking for, and how the voice of the child can be reconciled with other factors
  • the child's inner world is as important to understand as the child's outward behaviour. This holds true whether the child is a baby or a teenager
  • the JFCAS officer should make sure that direct work with the child is coordinated with other professional interventions so the child is not overwhelmed. If a child is not seen, the reason should be recorded on the case file and discussed in professional supervision
  • if the JFCAS officer decides not to act on the voice of the child, the child is entitled to an explanation of the reasons. This will usually be through a clear rationale set out in the relevant report to court, shared with the child according to the child's age and understanding
  • the child's voice can only be heard if the child is kept engaged and informed about what is happening throughout the case, directly or through a safe carer, taking the impact on the child into account – including any impact of the court process or changes made to the child's environment during the court process
  • the voice of the child is not an end in itself, unless it leads to change for that child, if this is necessary
  • in care proceedings, all professionals and family members have a commitment to ensure the child's voice is heard. Safe carers inside the family network and foster carers may also represent the voice of the child accurately and sensitively. Guardian input will usually be less in cases where the voice of the child is well understood by those involved and is being heard in the court case. The guardian role is needed most where the voice of the child is unexpressed, misunderstood or inaudible 
  • in private law, the voice of the child can sometimes be hard to detect because of the views and pressure from adults. Work with adults should have a child focus and should encourage the exercise of child focussed parental responsibility. JFCAS officers should be alert to any undue parental influence and assess what the child is saying accordingly

Child inclusive practice

Child inclusive practice is an evidence based approach to working with children which ensures their participation in decision making, and helps their voices be heard. Working eclectically is important because of our varying roles in public law, private law and other case types, which require different interventions. However, all of our roles require our practice to be child inclusive.

Child inclusive practice works best when it is at the heart of more generally inclusive practice with the significant people in the child's life. This includes understanding the importance of brothers and sisters for children who are separated either after relationship breakdown or as a result of coming into care. The potential need for brothers and sisters to stay in touch, even if parents cannot or will not, should be assessed. It is important to listen to siblings individually where possible: their stories are different, as are their needs.

An important element of inclusive practice is to combine assessment and analysis with active help towards any change that is needed. Such concurrent assessment and intervention is important when contact with families is brief. For example, in the Work to First Hearing Stage (WTFH) in private law cases, the focus from the start must be on the child and how the child can best be helped. It is difficult to achieve this level of change in the first stage of our work, but it should be attempted whenever the potential for early change is apparent.

Communications with the child and family should be clear about the focus of the work and how it will be carried out.

JFCAS officers exercise professional judgement in each case about the level of their direct contact with children. The exception is in private law cases where JFCAS officers do not work with children before the first hearing, as in these cases their role is to carry out safeguarding checks and complete an initial risk analysis.

Every visit to, or appointment with a child should be necessary. The number of times we see a child is proportionate to need, to see and hear the child, and gather information that can only be gained in that manner, in conjunction with the objectives of the case plan.

JFCAS officers work with children in various ways, using a range of tools and approaches. These may include direct work in whatever location the child is most comfortable, and observations of the child in different settings.

The needs of each individual case will often mean some parties are seen more than others. Care must be taken to explain why this is the case, to avoid concerns about disproportionality, bias or favouritism.

JFCAS offers all children the opportunity to give feedback via post on the work undertaken with them and their feelings about the outcome of their case. There is currently a low return rate with regard to this valuable input, and we are considering alternative methods for obtaining it.

Communicating with children with disabilities, or other communication and support needs

Before contacting a child about a meeting, the JFCAS officer should consider whether the child has any additional communication support needs. In many cases the adult party will have told JFCAS or the court about the child's needs in advance of the first contact, but this may not be the case.

The following should be considered to help ensure the best possible experience for the child, including being able to convey their views clearly:

  • ask the adult parties how their child prefers to communicate (such as email or letter) and whether they have any additional support needs  
  • check whether the child can understand vocabulary typical of others their age (this is different to reading ability)
  • check whether the reading ability of the child is typical of others their age 
  • there is no 'one size fits all' approach when it comes to communication with children with disabilities (including learning difficulties and other social and communication needs). JFCAS officers need to assess and respond to the needs of each child. The below may be helpful prompts:
  • consider font size and the use of colour, as this can be difficult for some people to read
  • consider who, if anyone, helps the child to communicate. They might be able to support the meeting, if appropriate
  • consider whether the adult parties can give any advice on communicating with the child
  • consider whether design or format amendments are needed to any written material
  • consider speaking to involved professionals to ascertain what supports may be helpful

Child involvement in services (with support/facilitation)

JFCAS supports children's involvement in other services, for example: mediation, children being actively involved in the formulation of their care plans (in public law) , or having input into decision making about where they should live and how they spend their time (in private law).

JFCAS encourages mediation and mediators to be child inclusive, subject to the child's age and understanding. We do not offer mediation but will recommend it to families where we feel it is appropriate.

None of the above examples mean abandoning professional responsibility, or parents abdicating their parental responsibilities to their children's choices. Sometimes children need to have decisions taken about them by others. However, unless a child is involved in the court process and the outcome, at least to the extent they can be and want to be, they will have little incentive to work with what is implemented. That in turn will limit the effectiveness of the whole court process.

Children as witnesses

It is rare that children will be needed to give evidence but can happen in certain cases. If so, careful planning will be undertaken by the Court and special measures and ground rules for cross examination, in line with those regarding vulnerable witnesses, followed.

Working with parents and carers

With limited professional time available, our first contact with parents and carers must achieve the following objectives:

  • if necessary, verify we are communicating with the right person, and to ask for sufficient verification if in doubt
  • ensure we are familiar with the issues being raised, and show empathy
  • be clear about our focus, which will be to gather information and evidence about what has happened to the child in the past, what is happening now and what needs to happen in the future. In so doing, we must keep the focus on the child's daily lived experience, their mental health, attachments, identity and general wellbeing. These are what matter most for the child and they are different in every case
  • we should always make it clear that the evidence about the child will be at the heart of any report we produce for the court and that our recommendations will flow from this
  • we should make it clear that much evidence in family cases is open to more than one interpretation

We conclude our enquiries in every case with a structured professional assessment and should make those we talk to aware of that.

Where a parent lacks the mental capacity to participate in the proceedings, and vulnerable adults

Where a JFCAS officer believes that a party, (including a non-subject child party such as a 17 year old parent of a child who is the subject of care or adoption proceedings), lacks the capacity to make decisions within the context of court proceedings, (known as 'litigation capacity'), the JFCAS officer will raise this with the Court and parties. This is to ensure that consideration can be given to any additional support measures, (including ensuring that that additional time can be taken in hearings if necessary).

JFCAS officers are not responsible for determining the mental capacity of a party or for representing non-subject children. However, in assessing the capacity to parent (which is a key task for our officers), a JFCAS officer may comment on the capacity of the parent to understand proceedings, as there is a close link between the 2.

A vulnerable adult is a person aged 18 or over who is or may be in need of services by reason of mental or other disability, or illness, and who is, or may be unable to take care of themselves, or unable to protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation. A JFCAS officer who is concerned about a vulnerable adult in either a public or private law case should establish whether, to who, and how JFCAS should make a referral to enable the vulnerable adult to receive appropriate services, if they do not appear to be in receipt of such services already. Part of the guardian  role in public law cases is to assess whether a vulnerable parent is a vulnerable adult who could look after their child or children if a reasonable level of support was made available by the Children's Service and other local agencies with a responsibility to do so. 

Where possible the prior consent of the vulnerable adult should be sought prior to making a referral, though the absence of consent does not prevent a referral being made where there are serious concerns about the welfare of the adult or others.

Diversity in cases, including anti-discriminatory practice

Each child is unique and different and those differences need to be brought out in our work as they are a core part of the 'voice of each child', who they are, what they feel, what they think, what they enjoy, what they want and what they need. Rather than reporting that there are 'no diversity issues' or 'no relevant diversity issues', the case file will reflect the uniqueness of the child and their family. We never knowingly act in a way that could give rise to the perception of bias or discrimination.

Practitioners need to analyse specific diversity case factors in relation to relevance and vulnerability as they apply to an individual child or family. 'Relevance' means deciding whether the diversity factor makes a difference to the issue in the case or to the application. If it does, it is relevant and must be analysed in depth. 'Vulnerability' means if the child is adversely affected by 1 or more diversity factors, either directly or indirectly, and this therefore becomes an essential element of the evidence base in the case about child impact.

The JFCAS officer will ensure these factors are analysed in compliance with human rights and equality legislation and the welfare checklist in the Jersey (Children) Law 2002.

Case management

Best practice is dependent on high quality case planning, case management and case administration. Good case progression helps to resolve cases for children quickly and uses fewer resources, so that scarce resources can be freed up to support more children. Good case planning includes interview plans and the focus of any intervention by the JFCAS officer in the family or with the child. It recognises that a delay in the child getting what they need is often damaging to that child.

Case progression

Case progression is the way in which a case is moved forward by all concerned between the day of the application and the day of the final Court Order. It is important in most cases to start and to finish the case as quickly as possible, so that the child or children at the heart of the case can have the situation around them resolved, as far as it can be.

Case progression needs to take place before and after court, not just during the court process. There is little benefit to the child of a faster court process if serious delay takes place in the community before the court application or in the implementation of the care plan after court (see below for the illustration of this in both public and private law).

To achieve good standards, JFCAS officers try to:

  • ensure all deadlines and filing dates are met or seek an extension from the court if delay is unavoidable
  • suggest earlier hearings where a need is identified, such as a Consent Order and to ensure ineffective hearings do not go ahead
  • be proactive if waiting for someone else to complete their input and chase if necessary
  • consider the consequences of requests for more information, experts or more reports. Such requests should only be made if the case cannot otherwise move forward
  • communicate actively about any significant change in circumstances affecting the potential outcome of the case and seek a revision to the case management timetable if required
  • support the judiciary in their case management role by complying with all court requests and directions fully and on time and supporting effective listing and gatekeeping practices
We aim to be solution focussed, once it is clear what the problem is to solve. For example, in the Work to First Hearing Stage (WFHS) dispute resolution is a key component of our role, where necessary working with the Family Court within Early Neutral Evaluation Hearings (ENE).


Analysing whether thresholds have been met lies at the heart of good case management and case progression. The judiciary are clear that their role is to determine threshold, ours is to provide them with analysis. The key thresholds for JFCAS to analyse are as follows:

  • the threshold for removal from home in a public law case
  • the threshold for contact with birth parents being safe for the child in a permanence placement in a public law case
  • the threshold for a safeguarding concern in a private law case
  • in a private law case, the threshold for recommending change in who the child lives with due to harm the child is experiencing in their current living arrangements


The standards for allocation are as follows:

  • all work is allocated within 5 days of receipt
  • the team manager takes into account the resources available
  • we aim for officer continuity in public law cases and in work after the first hearing in private law cases
  • cases are closed promptly, in line with the case recording policy

The team manager should only hold cases in the first few days after receipt, for allocation purposes, or for a brief period if it becomes necessary to transfer a case from 1 JFCAS officer to another.

Case planning

The case plan should set out an explicit list of actions, linked to timescales.

Case plans are necessary in all cases, with 2 exceptions:

  1. Private law cases before the first hearing. The plan for any subsequent work should be put together by the practitioner allocated after the first hearing
  2. Flexibility applies to case plan recording before the first hearing in a public law case, though there must be evidence of why certain enquiries were made, and not others

Case planning is a way of structuring work and to determine how to allocate finite resources according to priority. JFCAS' goal is always to do what is necessary and proportionate to a case: good case planning enables focussed work and avoids drift. It should encompass clear case analysis, evidence recommendations made, and be updated whenever there is a significant change to the case.

Case recording and reporting

The case record, though recorded proportionately, must contain an adequate audit trail of work done, including notes of interviews and the inclusion of other relevant information. This is to ensure that we always meet sound professional standards.

All recording should be committed to the case record on the basis it will be read, most importantly by the child in later life, should she or he wish to understand what we recorded in their family court case.

Electronic templates support all aspects of our work, to improve and standardise the structure of reports and to meet recording requirements. JFCAS officers will use agreed templates designed to encourage good analytical writing and professional recommendations.

Case analysis

Key points in written case analysis are as follows:

  • a clear introduction which sets out the issues of the case, and the nature of the application
  • an analysis of all factors, both static and dynamic (issues that change, and issues that do not)
  • an account of the evidence, before moving to structured professional analysis.
  • the impact on the child must be at the heart of the case analysis, whether it is a public or private law case
  • a structured and fair professional assessment. A balancing exercise is often necessary, as the evidence rarely points solely in one direction
  • recommendations should be clear and flow naturally from the body of the case analysis
  • each report should consider and apply the relevant welfare checklist. Individual elements of the checklist must be covered when they are significant in the case
  • the analysis should ensure the child's needs, wishes and feelings are understood and that the impact on them of their situation "leaps off the page"
  • there can be no page limit for a professional report, but a good analysis is always concise, with short well planned sentences and it should be easy to read and follow

JFCAS officers frequently give evidence in court to substantiate their recommendations, and provide oral case analysis. The following key points will be borne in mind when working in court:

  • court based social work is a crucial skillset, including negotiation with parties about what is needed and gaining all parties' confidence in the JFCAS officer's proposals
  • dispute resolution or conflict mediation is a core skill to use in work with families and with professional colleagues throughout the life of a case. We aim to interrupt a cycle of neglect, abuse, violence, hostility etc. and to support rational child focussed attitudes and strategies
  • most parties to a case or at least their advisers should be aiming to work collaboratively and to narrow the disputed issues in line with the court rules, their professional codes of practice and judicial expectation. We should challenge the raising of insignificant issues or 'red herrings' by any party, which distract from the issues facing the child
  • JFCAS officers should be familiar not only with the content of their written reports, but also with the sources they draw from, including the evidence that might have been sourced by colleagues
  • it is vital to do sufficient work on each case to be able to justify our conclusions and recommendations. This must include our own evaluation of the evidence as well as analysing the work of others
  • we should advise courts about case management, such as focussing on the effect of any direction sought in the case, and bringing to the court's attention the effect of delay at all points in the proceedings

Case transfer process

When a practitioner goes on long term leave of any nature, their cases will be re-allocated to another worker as soon as possible, to avoid drift and delay for the child and family.

Public law cases

In public law, the guardian focus is to start with the child and stay with the child, throughout the life of the court case. We should ensure the child will receive the future care, help and support they need to recover from any adverse childhood experiences. 

We should be aware of competing timescales and how these work best for the child, the child's timescale, the proposed carer's timescale, and the court timescale and advocate accordingly.

Our work with the Children's Service should be based upon respectful challenge when we assess an assessment or care plan. Respectful challenge creates an atmosphere in which change becomes easier to agree. This must never lead to our independence being compromised or to a perception of collusion.

Public law proceedings factsheet

Public law welcome letter younger child

Public law welcome letter older child

Overview of the role of the guardian

Guardians are independent expert social workers in the family court and should be knowledgeable about the issues facing children and families on the edge of care. Their expert view must always be evidence based.

In the UK, the child is always a party to the proceedings, and has a lawyer appointed to work in tandem with the guardian.

In Jersey, a Guardian ad litem's ('guardian') role is a little different. In Jersey law, guardians are appointed under Article 75 of the Children's Law, usually when the Children's Service are applying for Public Law Orders (for example, a Care Order), about a child. A guardian is also always appointed when the Court is asked to make an Adoption Order in relation to a child. The child does not automatically have party status or legal representation, but the guardian will often make an application to the Court for this, on the child's behalf.

The guardian 's role is to be an independent advisor to the Court and the child, and 'assist and befriend' the child in proceedings, ensuring that the child's voice is heard clearly throughout.

The law in Jersey says little else about the role in guardians. In carrying out this role, JFCAS officers therefore follow UK best practice, which is based on legislation which is more detailed than we currently have in Jersey. This goes beyond assisting and befriending, and is about safeguarding the interests of the child, and conducting a full investigation of the case. In addition to seeing the child, this involves the following:

  • making an application for, and instructing a lawyer (if one is appointed)
  • reviewing documents
  • attending and giving advice at Court hearings
  • considering if additional expert assessments are needed
  • notifying prospective parties (where appropriate to the child's interests) that they might need to apply to be joined to proceedings
  • inspecting relevant records
  • interviewing the people involved with the child (family and professionals)
  • considering the timetabling of the case so there is no unnecessary delay and making recommendations about whether additional hearings are needed.

At the end of a case, the guardian will write a report which should:

  • advise the Court on the facts of the case
  • confirm what investigations have taken place, who they have spoken to and where they have received information from
  • present the child's wishes and feelings
  • present an assessment of the child's needs
  • comment on the actions of the Children's Service
  • comment on the care plan
  • evaluate the different options available to the Court
  • make a recommendation about what should happen

Following the conclusion of the case, the guardian's role is finished. The guardian will write or speak to the child to inform them of this, and pass on any relevant information to the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO), who is responsible for oversight of the child's Care Plan.

Key principles and practice

Guardian practice should:

  • make sure that if the child needs immediate protection, the Children's Service has put this in place
  • work actively with the child's 'significant others' who know the child well and can be relied upon such as safe carers (family, foster carers) or professionals in regular contact with the child, to build up a working knowledge of the child before the case management hearing or the first contested hearing, as far as possible
  • The Children's Service's Social Work Evidence Statement (SWET) will often contain an ecomap, listing risky and protective contacts for the child. The guardian should ensure the child has sufficient protective contacts to keep them safe. Listing reliable protective contacts in your case analysis can keep the focus on this
  • meet the parents, foster carers and the child's social worker – use observations where necessary to gain a critical insight
  • contact and discuss the case with the child's IRO
  • the guardian can look at all Children's Services' material on the child, but requests should always be proportionate to the main lines of enquiry. Extra information should be sought if there is a glaring omission from the court papers
  • analyse and challenge the assessment and care plan, improving them where possible. Be professionally curious in considering whether alternative competing explanations have been adequately explored
  • allow for positive uses of Article 17 placements, but not where it leads to delay and poor planning
  • ensure the Children's Service has explored all viable permanent carers, whatever their legal status, so that the child has the best possible restorative parenting experience. Given the overall shortage of permanence options in practice on the ground, it is important to keep all options for the child open, at least for a viability analysis, unless any superficially plausible options can be eliminated on the basis of clear evidence
  • ensure that where a child needs to recover from trauma, abuse or neglect, that the parenting proposed is reparative or restorative and that it creates and maintains a healing environment for the child for as long as that will be needed
  • children who have been hurt by a parent or carer may already be managing a long term emotional and psychological condition. Their care plan needs to ensure sufficient support is built in
  • support improved relationships and stronger relational capability in the child's network such as between parents, between parents and their child, and between parents and the Children's Service
  • think of recommendations being what the children would ask for from those in power: their parents, the Children's Service, the Government. Such recommendations can also set out specific changes that will benefit the child such as how the behaviour of a parent should change to help the child
  • agree with the social worker and the IRO the future social work oversight needed for a child after the court case ends especially if permanence for the child is not yet resolved
  • contribute to post case reviews and any other learning exercises about case performance and feedback mechanisms in operation locally

Case planning and progression

A guardian will usually be appointed before the first Court hearing in any public law matter. Sometimes this can be at very short notice. The guardian will make what preliminary enquiries they can and report these, either written or verbally, back to the Court. There are usually 4 stages to the case progression in public law: the start of proceedings (at which a guardian is appointed), the first hearing at which interim orders may be made, the issues resolution hearing, and the final hearing. 

Care and Supervision Proceedings Case Management on the Jersey Law website

The 3 key thresholds for a children's guardian in a public law case to analyse are: 

  1. threshold for significant harm
    consider stepping down
  2. threshold for immediate removal
    consider alternative options
  3. threshold for permanent removal
    consider all viable placements in a balancing exercise
Three Key Thresholds Childrens Guardian

Early case planning should be used to differentiate between well managed Children's Service cases and those with significant gaps.

There're 3 types of case to plan for:

  1. First type of case:
    Applications where the Children's Service has carried out and coordinated sufficient assessments and where the care plans are sound. In this group of cases, the guardian should carry out sufficient enquiries to be able to provide the required independent evaluation of the Children's Service case to the court.

  2. Second type of case:
    Applications where the Children's Service work is good, yet more work is needed, perhaps because of a difficulty engaging with the family or because a specific expert report is not yet available. A case analysis can be written along these lines, ready to be updated if all goes to plan. Parental responsibility for the child is likely to be exercised well in this type of case, by the Children's Service and potentially by the family.

  3. Third type of case:
    The third group of cases is those where the guardian needs to be intensively involved on behalf of the child because the assessments, care plans, or both, have glaringly obvious flaws. In this type of case, the exercise of parental responsibility may also be poor, requiring more input by the guardian to work on behalf of the child to secure a good enough assessment and the best possible care plan.

Three types of cases

Analysing the Children's Service case

The guardian will carry out an analysis of any gaps in the Children's Services' case at the outset. It will not be assumed that there is a gap, if one is found, the guardian will negotiate the extra work needed with the Children's Service or seek a court direction to get it done. Relations with the Children's Service should be cordial and constructive, but never cosy or collusive.

The guardian should analyse the Children's Services assessment and care plan as set out in the SWET. The guardian should be familiar with each section of the SWET.

The guardian should check that any necessary viability assessments have been undertaken or are planned within the SWET. The care plan should show how the child will be supported to recover from any trauma experienced as a result of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Threshold and parenting capability in the future

The guardian must critique the Children's Service threshold analysis, namely the level of harm (if proven) and what should be done about it, especially if the proposal is to remove the child from their family on a short term or on a permanent basis.

The guardian's analysis should include a root cause analysis of any significant harm a child has experienced or is likely to face; whether any parenting capacity or capability gap can be bridged or not; and what actions the Children's Service has taken to reduce risk and to step down their level of concern where possible. The risks the child faces and the strengths in the family system should always be set out and analysed and given equal weight; there should be no negative presumptions about parenting capability. Equally, guardians should guard against the 'rule of optimism' by ensuring they remain child focussed.

The guardian should carry out their own child impact analysis as well as reviewing the Children's Service analysis, and make recommendations with future focus to the child's social worker and the IRO, if the guardian considers that permanence for the child is not going to be resolved within a reasonable timeframe.

Secure accommodation cases

Children's guardians have a role to play in all secure accommodation applications, both initial applications and reviews. Guardians are often called into applications at short notice and need to give a view about whether the criteria for secure accommodation is met and whether on what is known, the child's best interests (or that of the public) cannot be adequately protected in a less restrictive setting. Where the guardian has more time to consider the issues, they should analyse the role of secure accommodation in the context of the child's overall care plan.

Emergency Protection Orders

Guardians should be aware of the case law related to Emergency Protection Orders

(EPOs) and Police Protection Orders (PPOs), and their link to an application for an Interim Care Order (IRO). The guardian's task is to review the immediacy of the child's need, and the threshold for removal from the family if this is being sought.

Deprivation of liberty

JFCAS practitioners have a role in identifying when a child has been deprived of their liberty, and bringing this to the attention of the court. This is most likely to apply to cases where children are in the care of the Children's Service and are not permitted freedom to leave their placement and lack capacity to consent to their arrangements.

Details of public law orders available can be accessed in the glossary of terms.

Private law cases

JFCAS see the dispute through the eyes of the child, not through the respective narratives of the parents about each other. Although we recognise the very real distress separation can cause parents, for us, it is the child's story that needs telling, and their needs addressing.

We do not judge who is right or wrong after a relationship breaks down. Our role is to establish the impact of what has happened on the child or children concerned and to recommend to courts and to the child's parents and carers what should be done to end or lessen any harmful impact and promote positive outcomes.

The evidence informed tools we use for working with children and families should be used to tell the child's story accurately and persuasively. This will usually be through a clear rationale set out in the relevant report to court, shared with the child through the family, according to the child's age and understanding.

Solutions in private law cases often require parents having to demonstrate emotional regulation and emotional intelligence, leading to changes in behaviour. Sometimes there are real risks in cases and individuals need protection. Generally however, we work to change the way family members think about each other, and we recognise that emotions can be powerful and dominant. We work with family members, trying to achieve breakthroughs either in negotiation and dispute resolution or in protection for the child.

Private law proceedings factsheet

Welcome letter private law older child

Welcome letter private law younger child

Court process in private law

​Application is made to court
​Safeguarding checks are ordered
​Work to first hearing (WTFH)
  • telephone interviews and safeguarding checks
  • safe​guarding letter filed with Court
  • attend Court hearing
​Options for JFCAS intervention
  • welfare report (including consideration if a Guardian needs appointment)
  • dispute resolution (including recommendation for ENE hearing)
  • child contact intervention (CCI)
  • Cafcass Positive Co-Parenting Programme (CPPP)
  • wishes and feelings report
  • signposting to mediation or other services
  • family assistance order

​Court review
Possible final orders or further interbention ordered
Case closed following final orders​

Court process in private law 

Work to first hearing (WTFH)

Our role before the first hearing is to identify any safeguarding or serious welfare concerns affecting a child or a vulnerable adult. This is called the Work to First Hearing stage (WTFH) of the case. This stage begins with the screening of the C100 application form and the seeking of Children's Services and police checks. The file is then allocated to one of our officers on a duty rota for brief telephone interviews to be made with both parties.

The telephone interviews take place to establish if there are any welfare concerns which are impacting on the child.

Where C100s received by JFCAS are missing important information, it is not the responsibility of JFCAS to seek and obtain that information, beyond the request that the parties contact us. In cases where the missing information has prevented JFCAS from completing all WTFH tasks, the safeguarding letter should both inform the court of the missing information and report on the outcome of the work that JFAS has been able to do.

Safeguarding letters must be completed using the current approved framework, which is:

  • a summary of JFCAS' screening actions and outcomes
  • a summary of areas of agreement/disagreement and risks raised
  • analysis of any risk or safeguarding issues 

If no welfare issues are identified at the WTFH stage, this should be clearly drawn to the attention of the court together with a recommendation that JFCAS take no further role in the case. 

Depending on the nature and level of concerns that are identified, it may be necessary to make a child protection referral to the Children's Service, in which case the court should be informed.

Work at the first court hearing

The court will consider:

  • risk identification followed by active case management including risk assessment and compliance
  • whether, and the extent to which, the parties can safely resolve some or all of the issues with the assistance of the JFCAS officer or mediation services
  • the appropriateness of any consent order agreed by the parties
  • if agreement is not reached, whether it is appropriate to order a contact intervention, particularly where contact is deemed safe and appropriate
  • in cases where a JFCAS report is required the court can direct, in the order, which specific matters relating to the welfare of the child are to be addressed
  • if the case is particularly complex and there are many risk issues, the Court can order that the child is appointed a JFCAS guardian, and that a lawyer is also appointed to ensure the child's voice is clearly represented in all subsequent hearings
In court the JFCAS officer should: 

  • try to achieve a safe and positive resolution of the parental dispute for the benefit of the child
  • time permitting, carry out a limited amount of dispute resolution between the parties
  • ensure litigants in person understand the process as much as possible

Provide information on the availability of local programmes where appropriate, such as contact centres, parenting support, mediation and domestic abuse perpetrators programmes.

Work after the first hearing (WAFH)

JFCAS offers defined interventions after the first hearing, which are as follows: 

Interventions will usually not extend beyond 12 weeks, apart from a Family Assistance Order (FAO), which can be made for a longer period.

Assessing risk and safeguarding issues in contact

Evaluating the risk and impact of domestic abuse, harmful conflict (including alienating behaviours) and other forms of harm are a key part of our assessments. JFCAS officers are trained in using evidence based tools in assessing risk (including the Cafcass Child Impact Framework). In writing a welfare report, any serious continuing risks to the child must be set out in the evidence base of the report, followed by the JFCAS officer's structured professional assessment. Evidence is usually drawn from what the child says or shows; what reliable and trustworthy adults say about the child's situation; or physical evidence such as signs of suspected abuse. In these cases, whilst it is important to be balanced, the risk to a child must not be compromised. The recommendation to the court will ideally be that which minimises future risk to the child. 

JFCAS officers should demonstrate zero tolerance of safeguarding risks and threats when there is evidence of continuing child impact. Our policy is not to promote 'contact at all costs' or to see 'spending time with' as a parent's right, including through a time based calculation or a 'contact calculator' approach. Our responsibility is to promote the type and level of arrangements that is in the best interests of the individual child. The default recommendation with unresolvable or complex safeguarding concerns is that contact should be indirect or supervised, until risks reduce. 

The appropriateness of indirect contact should also be assessed. Receiving letters, phone calls or social media contact from a person or parent they fear can be anxiety provoking for a child, even though most of the time indirect contact is a positive way to keep in touch. Video call contact is more a form of direct contact, due to the immediate visual and verbal nature of the medium. These forms of contact also bring the participants into each other's homes. The impact of the recommendation on each individual child must be considered. A formulaic approach to stepping up contact should be avoided in favour of a customised approach and programme.

The working definition of harmful conflict is that the intensity of post separation conflict shows no sign of lessening, either with the passage of time or after one or more dispute resolution interventions have been made. Alienating behaviours that damage the child may continue regardless.

Where there is prospect of resolution with a little more time being made available, or where the JFCAS officer feels a specific service may benefit the child either directly or through the parents being supported to change, JFCAS officers may recommend a final hearing date that allows time for the intervention to be completed. Keeping cases under long term review, where there is no clear role for JFCAS, is not an option, as this would be contrary to the child's right to a private family life, and create unhealth dependency on services. Where there is no prospect of sufficient resolution, the report to court will usually need to address how best to bring the case to a conclusion, by recommending to the court the least detrimental alternative to the child in accordance with the paramountcy of the welfare principle.

Ending long running private law cases in the best interests of the child usually requires a careful balancing exercise, including long and short term impact analysis, with the following options considered:

  • accepting with reluctance that the situation cannot be changed without causing the child further stress and damage. This may mean recommending the status quo continues in order to stabilise what may be a poor situation in legal terms, but it may be one the child feels at ease with. Normally, a case will be kept open as long as viable active work with the family remains possible and necessary.
  • recommending no further hearings or court applications if the court process itself is damaging the child and is not productive.
  • considering a change of residence for the child, if that change allows the child to maintain healthier relationships with both parents. Like all options, this option needs carefully assessing for its potential short and long term impacts
  • defining the case as a safeguarding case which meets the public law criteria for significant harm. The recommendation would normally be for an Article 29 of the Children's (Jersey) Law 2002 order assessment by the Children's Service
The impact on the child of long running family court proceedings is rarely positive, so cases should normally be concluded within six months of the first application being made. Options such as a court order for no contact or an Article 66.8 of the Children's (Jersey) Law 2002 order being made to prevent future applications for a defined period time can enable the child's daily lived experience to improve. This can minimise the risk to the child of developing significant emotional, psychological or mental health problems developing as a result of living in a situation of harmful conflict without being protected over a long period of time. The preferred option should flow from an evaluation of those realistic options which help the child, in a balancing exercise. 

Addendum or sequential reports and adjournments

Addendum reports should only be requested or commissioned if a case needs a short piece of follow up work. Recommendations for adjournments and reviews should also be short term and for a specific purpose where a short piece of work can resolve the issues in the case without the need for a specific order.

Extensions to filing times

An extension to an agreed filing time for a report should only be requested with the agreement of the JFCAS Manager where there are last minute unavoidable factors. This could be the need for additional enquiries, either because of a late change in circumstances, the absence of cooperation from one or more of the parties, or because relevant information becomes available at a late stage.

Liaison with courts is crucial to ensure filing dates are met and to avoid frustrations over clashing commitments which may impact on these.

Child protection

JFCAS has a duty to assess risk under the Children's (Jersey) Law 2002 and agency Child Protection policy, which can be accessed on our website). In our private law work we may consider it necessary, as a result of our involvement in cases, to pass information about children to the Children's Service.

Private law orders

A list of all available private law orders is contained within the glossary of terms.


We explore and analyse the impact on the child of the potential adoption. If the child needs to recover from trauma, the recommendation sets out how that recovery will be actively supported. 

Adopted children are one of the most likely groups in later life to seek access to their records, to understand why the decision for adoption was taken, and why they could not be looked after by their birth parents. Our reports and case analyses should be written with that in mind.

Practice considerations

Adoption proceedings can involve adoption following a freeing for adoption order, partner adoption, adoption by a relative or step parent in a private law case, inter country adoption, or adoption of a relinquished baby. The Court will always appoint a JFCAS Officer to act as Guardian ad Litem.

Within public law proceedings, if the Children's Service does not have the consent of the parents, it must apply to court for a freeing for adoption order before placing a child for adoption. This application will often be made at the same time as the application for a care order.

The children's guardian in the care proceedings will ideally be appointed Guardian ad Litem in adoption proceedings, and will make a recommendation to the court based on a welfare determination taking account of the welfare checklist set out in section 1 of the UK Adoption and Children Act 2002 slightly different to that within the Children (Jersey) Law 2002, which we follow as best practice.

Where a child is not subject to a freeing order, the Guardian ad Litem must ascertain if the parents' consent was properly given (if the parent is known), or inform the Court that the parents' consent, if not given, may be being unreasonably withheld.

The main tasks of the JFCAS officer in cases are to:

  • keep in mind the overriding responsibility to safeguard the interests of the child and to avoid delay
  • scrutinise the key documents such as assessments, Adoption Panel minutes or the process carried out by the Adoption Decision Maker (the ADM) within Children's Services
  • where a care order has been made or applied for, to read the care plans made at the time of the care order and placement order. If substantial changes have been made, and especially if these appear to be contrary to the wishes of the child or parents, these should be discussed with the IRO and the court alerted to these changes
  • consider the plan for adoption, including adoption support, and assess the likelihood of implementation within the child's timescale
  • make sure adequate information is provided by the Children's Service to all concerned, so that cases can be dealt with without delay
  • ensure work is undertaken within the timetable for the child (where relevant, as set by the court)
  • take account of the Welfare Checklist set out in section 1 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, (as stated above) which includes consideration of the effect on the child of becoming an adopted person and ceasing to be a member of the original family. The consequences for wellbeing and personal identity are crucial factors to consider, including the potential value of continuing contact with a member of the birth family and, if so, whether such contact will be facilitated by an order for contact made at the time of the placement order or an order for contact to be made at the time of the adoption order
  • carry out an assessment of the prospective adopter/s: to include their relationships with any co-adopter and the quality of the parenting they have already undertaken
  • the same considerations apply to the adoption of a relinquished child, a step-parent adoption or an inter country adoption. Whatever the nature of the adoption, a welfare determination must be made, having taken into account the different legal and procedural frameworks that apply. In each case, here are the main practice considerations
  • for this reason, assessments must consider whether the adoptive family has sufficient carers either within the adoptive extended family or network to ensure the adopted child will be well looked after whatever happens
  • a structured professional assessment must be given about whether the child's attachments, identity, and the probability of the child having a relatively safe and happy childhood will be strengthened over time because of the adoption

Adoption proceedings factsheet

Surrogacy, International cases, working with children and families in cases of exploitation


In the UK, the definition of surrogacy is contained in the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 and involves an arrangement made before the pregnancy that intended parent(s) will become the legal parents of a child, carried by the woman acting as a surrogate, born as a result of artificial insemination of sperm or transfer of a fertilised embryo. Jersey has no legislation regarding surrogacy at present, and it remains something which JFCAS, on the rare occasions we have been approached to assess such issues, currently use the adoption framework and legislation. We recognise this is an area we need to develop and will give it active consideration, as local legislation and guidance changes, taking legal advice as necessary.

International cases

All cases can occasionally contain international elements. Our practitioners must understand the technicalities of such cases, and seek legal advice to ensure that our recommendations and interventions are appropriate and proportionate.

Applications that may have an international dimension include the wrongful removal or retention of a child, or the wish of a parent to take a child to live in another jurisdiction without the agreement of someone with parental responsibility.

The Hague Conventions of 1980 (Child Abduction) and 1996 (Child Protection) provide a legal remedy for parents when a child has been wrongfully removed from their home country or retained in a different country, without consent.

In cases of wrongful removal or retention, proceedings are issued under the Hague Convention with the object of securing the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any country which is signed up to the Convention. Disputes about jurisdiction should be resolved prior to any final decisions being made about a child's future. Welfare issues only become relevant once any jurisdictional issue is determined by a court.

In regard to an application for relocating to another jurisdiction, the key issue to be aware of is that the same welfare of the child test must be applied, whether it is to the UK, or internationally. No presumptions operate, whether by the 'removing' parent or the 'blocking' parent. JFCAS officers must balance the arguments in favour of removal with the arguments in favour of blocking the proposal and should use the same child impact analysis framework as for other types of private law case. Potential impacts are on attachments, education, and emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Within public law, there may be cases in which permanence decisions have been made about children who are nationals of other countries although they live in Jersey. When making long term decisions, consideration must be given to the cultural heritage of the child as a factor within the overall welfare assessment.

Working with children and families in cases of exploitation 

All practitioners understand and act upon the abuse and exploitation of children. We play a part in the multi agency response to child sexual exploitation, child trafficking, radicalisation, female genital mutilation and other forms of exploitation.

It is important that JFCAS officers continue to use and demonstrate professional curiosity in their work, as the signs and symptoms of child exploitation can be hard to read. Core safeguarding skills remain the most relevant in assessment and analysis. JFCAS officers' work is in accordance with local safeguarding partnership board guidance regarding child protection.

Evidence informed and knowledge based practice

JFCAS supports outstanding frontline practice by providing JFCAS officers with the tools, resources, guidance, and support to make regular outstanding work possible. Our practice is always evidence informed and knowledge based.

Tools for evidence informed practice

JFCAS undertake regular training with a number of professional providers, including being trained by Cafcass in using a suite of customised and bespoke evidence informed practice tools and resources, which build on our officer's existing knowledge base to improve practice and to support their continued professional development.

JFCAS is a member of Research in Practice (RiP) and staff can access their training days, eLearning and webinars.

Quality assurance

Managers and practice supervisors regularly review case files and observe practice to ensure that it is of the required standard and to support JFCAS officers to continuously improve. JFCAS periodically conducts team and individual audits, to ensure that practice continues to improve.

We are currently developing a service wide quality and assessment framework, which grades the quality of work based on the impact and outcomes for the child. The process includes identifying learning and actions within all aspects of the case.

Professional development and regulation 

Delivering the best possible outcome for children is what matters most to us and we are committed to developing outcome measures that are open to scrutiny and challenge. The dominant language is the need of the individual child with who we are working, and how best to help them. JFCAS is a managed service and all staff are performance managed effectively.

Everyone in JFCAS is expected to demonstrate continuous improvement as individuals, and as an organisation.

Our aim is to make the organisation a secure base for practitioners, in the same way we strive to help children find a secure base. 

We seek to continuously develop our staff, equipping them with the skills and resources to meet the complex and varied demand for our services, while at the same time developing our capacity to meet the challenges we face in the future. We do this within an environment in which high levels of support and a focus on staff health, wellbeing and resilience remain key priorities for the longer term.

As an organisation we invited an inspection by Ofsted, which we aim to repeat regularly. As a condition of employment, JFCAS officers and managers must maintain their registration with Social Work England and with the local registration body in accordance with Healthcare Registration (Jersey) Law 1995.

Our knowledge base and practice competencies

The knowledge base and practice competencies for a JFCAS officer in the majority of situations, in either public or private law, are:

  • child development: the JFCAS officer must understand the principles of child development. If we do not understand family dynamics and child development, we cannot assess a child and family properly
  • risk analysis: the JFCAS officer must understand child protection signs and symptoms and how to identify the right level of concern, as far as this is possible. This is notoriously difficult. The officer must bring a coherent framework of understanding of risk to their work on a case
  • child impact: the JFCAS officer must rework a lot of what they are told or find out to assess the impact on the individual child and to take enough time to understand this accurately.
  • advocacy: we advocate for children who are unable to advocate for themselves, with those 'in charge' of them, and in court
  • negotiation: an ability to understand opposing positions and to reconcile them. The JFCAS officer will be in the negotiator role with many people and organisations
  • compromise: in a family court case, there are rarely winners and losers. It is important to create a solution which allows no one to win outright and no one to lose comprehensively, unless extreme danger for the child is present when a more one sided outcome may be needed. However, compromises and negotiated solutions must not lose sight of the child and must not ignore the child's perspective. This is child focussed problem solving
  • the legal framework a clear grasp of the legal framework within which we operate is essential when dealing with individual cases and with issues within cases

Supervision means ensuring that good advice and support is available to all staff, whatever their role, at the point of need. JFCAS supervision policy sets out how supervision should be conducted and recorded, as well as service standards and quality assurance. Different types of supervision are available, including the performance and learning review meeting (PLR) and "situational supervision". Regular performance, productivity and allocations discussions also take place on a regular basis.

As part of supervision, evidence is collected to ensure service objectives have been met and that there has been adherence to policies, particularly safeguarding. Throughout the year, line managers monitor adherence through practice observations and the analysis of a sample of case files.

An effective induction process is a critical element of attracting and retaining high performing and engaged staff. Managers are responsible for ensuring their staff are properly inducted within the first few weeks of their start date. This is mandatory for all staff, as all are expected to be fully functioning as soon as possible.

Peer support and advice

Peer support and advice is crucial in operational services. Peer support is maximised in high performing teams who use a strengths based approach, with open channels of communication and with a management team who are visibly supportive of strong peer relationships. 

Communicating with service users and stakeholders

Service users and stakeholders have a positive experience of JFCAS and our working relationships with key partner agencies are constructive, productive and creative. We value feedback from service users and stakeholders and use this to support learning within the organisation. 

Data protection

JFCAS operates within the Jersey Probation and After-Care Service and Government guidelines around data protection.

Complaints and compliments

Compliments and complaints provide valuable learning points. JFCAS is open to concerns that are raised and responds in a way that prioritises the safeguarding and promotion of children's welfare.

The complaints procedure sets out how parties to cases can complain. Compliments, comments and complaints can all provide valuable learning points for individuals and the organisation. It can be accessed via our website.

Managing unacceptable behaviour

JFCAS does not tolerate any violent, abusive or threatening behaviour towards our staff. This applies to face to face situations, and other forms of communication such as email, telephone, letters and internet postings. Action is taken in response to incidents involving a threat of harm, including the perception of a threat of harm; this may involve civil action or the police. Managers will carry out an assessment with staff where a direct threat is made, or information received from partner agencies, that indicates potential for a member of staff to be at risk of harm. The aim of the assessment is to identify measures that can be put in place to prevent an incident occurring.

With stakeholders

JFCAS is currently working on formalising our relationship with stakeholders, as part of the recommendations of our most recent Ofsted inspection. JFCAS aims to be an inclusive organisation, to work transparently and to be held to account. Our work with service users and other stakeholders must be undertaken with respect for the position or perspective of others.

With judges and legal practitioners

JFCAS managers liaise closely with local judges, especially the Family Registrars, and the work of JFCAS is monitored by the Probation Board.

Lawyers are key professional partners in all public law and in some private law cases. Close liaison is required on individual cases, and the JFCAS manager will attend meetings with the Family Court Users Group which includes the Registrars, Advocates who practice Family Law, Legal assistants who practice Family Law and the Family Proceedings Officer.

With the Children's Service

Good practice guidance has been agreed with the Director of Children's Services in ensuring:

  • the commitment of both JFCAS and Children's Services to work together where appropriate, to share good practice, and to identify ways to improve services jointly.
  • the respective responsibilities of JFCAS and the Children's Services in private and public law applications

Working with the police

Liaison with the police about data and case intelligence held by the police is managed by the JFCAS team manager. Constructive liaison between JFCAS and the police crucial on individual cases and police checks are always undertaken in private law matters.

Ethics and transparency

Ethics matter in JFCAS, and the prevailing internal culture must be one of respect and anti-discrimination, given these values are essential in our work with children and families. We must act out those values to be credible in what we do. JFCAS officers are required to comply with Social Work England Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics.

Conflicts of interest

Staff should declare any conflict of interest to their manager as soon as they become aware of it, in line with agency policy.

Recording of interviews and social media

Service users may occasionally ask to record interviews, or ask JFCAS officers to review information covertly obtained. Practitioners should refer to agency policy and if necessary, discuss with the team manager whether they should obtain legal advice.

Communication diaries factsheet

Glossary of key terms, definitions and legislation

Adoption Act 2002

The Act makes the welfare of the child the paramount consideration for courts and adoption agencies in all decisions relating to adoption, including in deciding whether to dispense with a birth parent's consent to adoption. It provides a welfare checklist which must be applied by the court and adoption agencies.

Adoption and Children Act 2002 on the Legislation website

Adoption Order

This order transfers parental responsibility to new, adoptive parents and means that the child is no longer legally the child of their birth parents. When writing an adoption report JFCAS refers to the checklist referred to in more up to date UK legislation.

Adoption and Children Act 2002 on the Legislation website

Article 17: voluntary placements

This means that all those with parental responsibility agree that the Children's Service should look after the child. There are many reasons for this: for example, emergency respite care due to health concerns, or a short period in foster care whilst an investigation regarding significant harm is carried out. If a child is in care under this section, the Children's Service does not share PR with a parent and the matter does not need to go to Court.

Article 29

The Court can direct the Minister for Children and Education (The Children's Service) to investigate a child's circumstances and report to the Court if there are such concerns in respect to the welfare of the child that it appears to the Court it may be appropriate for a care or supervision order to be made with respect to the child.

Article 66(8)

This relates to an order which the Court can make at the same time as a final order is made in a private law matter. The Court will consider making this order if, for example, a similar application is made several times and is unsuccessful (e.g. a parent makes repeated applications for a contact order with no change of circumstances, which are becoming oppressive for the child). The duration of this order can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. If an Article 66(8) Order is made it means that the person named in the order must apply to the Court for permission to make a similar application for as long as this order is in place.

Care Order

A care order is made when the Children's Service can prove to the Court that a child is at risk of significant harm, and that harm is attributable to the care of the parents. It gives the Children's Service P.R. The Court often makes an Interim Care Order which means that the Children's Service can make decisions about the child (where they should live, when and how often they should see their parents) whilst proceedings are ongoing.

Emergency Protection Order (EPO)

An order issued with the aim of protecting a child from ongoing or imminent risk of physical, mental or emotional harm where emergency action is needed. Subject to certain exceptions, it can be made for a maximum period of 28 days.

Freeing Order

This is an Order that is made in conjunction with a Care Order. It extinguishes the Parental Responsibility for the parents and allows the Children's Service to place the child for adoption and the Court to make an adoption Order without the consent of the parents.

Guardian ad Litem, sometimes referred to as Guardian

An independent social worker appointed by a court to represent a child's personal and legal interests.

Joint Residence Order

This is an order that states that a couple who live together with a child jointly share PR for them, and that is the child's home. For example, a child lives with their father and stepmother and their birth mother is deceased. The making of a Joint Residence Order will confer PR onto the stepmother. The making of a Joint Residence Order will confer PR on to both the carers.

Parental Responsibility (PR)

Means all the rights, duties and responsibilities that a parent has to a child. A person with parental responsibility can make decisions about a child such as what school they will attend and medical treatment. All mothers have parental responsibility. For Jersey born children:

  • fathers who were married to the mother of their child automatically get PR
  • fathers to children who were born on or after 2 December 2016 automatically get PR if their name appears on the birth certificate, whether or not they were married to the mother
  • unmarried fathers whose child was born before 2 December 2016 do not have PR unless they have entered into a PR agreement with the mother or they have made a successful application to the Court

Party to proceedings

Anyone who holds Parental Responsibility for the child will be a "party to proceedings". If an individual is party to proceedings this means they have a right to attend each Court Hearing and see to all reports and evidence which are  part of the Court Proceedings.

Prohibited Steps

This type of Court Order is used by one parent to stop another parent from exercising some aspect of their parental responsibility.

The Prohibited Steps Order could prevent:

  • the parent from moving a child from their school/nursery 
  • the child coming into contact with another person
  • the parent from moving away from Jersey
  • a parent allowing a child to undergo risky medical treatment
  • changing a child's name

Removal from the Jurisdiction

If a parent wishes to relocate, with their child, away from Jersey, they cannot do so unless they have the consent of others with PR: usually the other parent. If that consent is not forthcoming an application is made to the Court and the Court will adjudicate as to whether the child can be removed from Jersey to live in another jurisdiction. The Court can only decide whether the child can accompany the parent and cannot prevent the parent relocating without the child.

Residence Orders

This is an order of the Court saying who a child should live with, although there are various sub-groups. If the person/s applying do not have PR, a Residence Order will automatically give PR to those named in the order.

Secure Accommodation Order

This is an order which places a child in secure accommodation and can only be made if it is assessed that if the child is placed anywhere else they are likely to suffer significant harm which includes, but is not limited to, being at risk of abuse or exploitation, injury to themselves or other people, and/or the child is beyond parental control.

This order can be made for a maximum time of 3 months. Although an application can be made to extend this time, a child cannot be kept in secure accommodation for longer than 6 months at any one time.

This is an order that recognises that there are times when a child has 2 homes. The usual circumstance is that the parents have separated, and the child spends a significant amount of time (it does not have to be equal) with both parents. The Court order will state that the child lives with person A during these times and person B during the rest of the time.

Sole Residence Order

This is an order that says that the child lives with a particular person who could be a parent, grandparent, or another person with who the child has lived for an extended period of time. Example: a foster carer. 

Specific Issue Order

This type of Court Order often involves a decision being made about children where parents with parental responsibility cannot agree. This can include making decisions about:

  • which school/nursery the child will attend
  • changing the child's name
  • medical/dental treatment
  • visits to other countries

Supervision Order

This Order gives the Children's Service the legal power to monitor the child's needs and progress while the child lives at home or somewhere else. A social worker will advise, help and befriend the child. In practice, this will mean they give help and support to the family as a whole.

Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985

Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 on the Legislation website

This is an order of the Court saying how often and during what times a party can have contact with a child. Not everyone can make this application. Parents of children have an automatic right to apply, others who may wish to apply such as grandparents or foster carers have to make an application for leave to apply. The Court will look at certain criteria when deciding the matter.

The Children's Service

The governement authority in Jersey who assess risk regarding children and families, under the governance of the Minister for Children and Education. In Court proceedings, the Children's Service will be referred to as 'The Minister for Children and Education', or 'The Minister', because it is the responsibility of that individual to make the applications sought.

The Hague Conventions of 1980 (Child Abduction) and 1996 (Child Protection)

The Hague Convention protects children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent by encouraging the prompt return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence, and to organize or secure the effective rights of access to a child.

Information on the Hague process on the HCCH website

United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), is a legally binding international agreement on the rights of children, ratified by 196 countries, which include Jersey.
Summary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children on the Unicef website

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