Starred care plans and the family justice review

Andrew Watson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In 2001 in the case of Re W and B; Re W [2001] EWCA Civ 757 Lord Justice Thorpe proposed the introduction of a system of “starred” care plans in which a failure to meet key objective of the care plan would allow a party to return the matter to court. The decision was reversed by the House of Lords but Lord Nicholls observed that “urgent consideration was needed to consider whether some degree of court supervision of local authorities’ discharge of their parental responsibilities would bring about an overall improvement in the quality of child care provided by local authorities”. Following this case the role of the Independent Reviewing Officer was expanded to include challenging failures by a local authority to implement an agreed care plan. This includes the power to refer a case to CAFCASS who must investigate and who may issue further proceedings on behalf of the child. To date only eight referrals have been made to CAFCASS in eight years and no proceedings have been issued in response to any of them. The Family Justice Review has recommended that the courts should no longer scrutinise the detail of the care plan for children subject to care orders. The Government Response indicates that legislation will be introduced to make it clear that the court should only focus on the core elements of the plan and leave the detail to the local authority. This paper will consider whether or not this change is actually required. It will review the existing case law on the boundaries between the court and the local authority in establishing and implementing the care plan and consider the impact of such a change in a system where there is already a lack of independent review. The paper will argue that removal of the courts role in scrutinising the plan will leave the most vulnerable children in society without any independent review of decisions which are made about them.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2013
EventOn the Edge of Adulthood Symposium - Gateshead
Duration: 12 Sept 2013 → …


ConferenceOn the Edge of Adulthood Symposium
Period12/09/13 → …


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