Children’s Guardian

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The court may make a child a party to proceedings if it considers it is in the best interests of the child to do so. If a child is made a party to proceedings then a children’s guardian will very often be appointed to safeguard the interests of the child. The cost is covered by public funds so there is no cost to the parties in proceedings.

The children’s guardian acts on behalf of the child within proceedings and provides the court with assistance as required. Along with the children’s guardian caseworker a solicitor is also appointed although they may instruct a barrister to attend at court hearings.

Children’s guardians are usually from the organisation Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) but if resources are not available then the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) may be approached to provide the caseworker.

The children’s guardian should spend time getting to know the child and members of the family. They should talk to other people who know the family, such as relatives, teachers, social workers and health visitors. They attend meetings on behalf of the child, check records and read reports and statements. They may also recommend to the court that other professionals are asked to help, such as a psychologist or paediatrician.

Any information given to the children’s guardian may be included in their reports to the court or information passed to other agencies.

Children’s guardians always consider the wishes and feelings of the child and report on this to the court but the recommendations of the caseworker may not be the same as what a child says s/he wants. It should be their needs and best interests that determine the recommendations to the court.

The court will take consider what the caseworker says very carefully but does not have to follow any recommendations.