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Protect our children

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The OECS Draft Bill promises to protect children from neglect and abuse. Last week we looked at the protection that it offers those who report in good faith. This week we will continue to bring other aspects of the bill to your attention.{{more}}

Emergency removal of child from home

Where a report of abuse or neglect reaches the Director, he or she could undertake an emergency removal of the child from the home if he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that the child is in need of protection and the health or safety is in immediate danger. The director may, with the assistance of the police, enter any premises to remove a child that is in danger. On the other hand, the Director could assume care responsibility of the child without actually removing the child from the premises.

Resort to the Court

Where the Director removes a child from his home, he or she has a duty to promptly apply to the Court to explain why the removal of the child without a warrant was considered to be necessary. The Court could issue supervision or interim supervision order, a care order or interim care order, a custody order or it could order that the child be given back to the parents. In reaching that decision, the court will take into consideration any view expressed by the child and relevant information from a written social inquiry. The social inquiry report shall contain matters relating to the welfare of the child and recommendations as to any action to be taken by the Court. It shall include the opinion of the child who is of sufficient age and understanding to express him or her self. If the Court is not satisfied with any recommendation made by the Director in the social inquiry report, the Court shall state and record its reasons for not complying with the recommendations. The Court may make a different order than the one applied for either adding or substituting where it sees necessary.

Interim and final orders

An interim order may be made by the court for the safety and well-being of the child, pending the final order. This may be in the form of a supervisory order in the best interest of the child. The assigned supervisor has the duty to provide friendly advice and assistance to the child and parents in addition to that of making plans for the future of child in consultation with the child and parents. The supervisor has the duty to apply to the court to discharge or vary the order of the court and to take such reasonable steps as may be necessary to reduce any harm to the child. Arrangements for periodic reporting to the supervisor could be made by parents and child.

Supervision orders must be for a period of one year in the first instance but could be extended for one further year on application to the Court. This would require a written report from the Director. A further six months could be granted, but all parties concerned must be given an opportunity to be heard. Any breach of the court order during this supervision period would be brought to the attention of the Court.

The Court may, on the application of the Director, order a Care plan. This may result in the placement for foster care or care under an approved child care services. Foster care may be provided either by relatives or persons who have been approved by the director.

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