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(Court of Appeal; Thorpe, Wall and Aikens LJJ; 30 March 2010)
The judge made an interim care order to permit the local authority to place the two younger children with foster carers pending an assessment of the mother's ability to care for her children. The two older children had expressed a very strong desire to return to the mother's care, and on practical grounds this had been agreed by the local authority. The main focus was whether the mother was able to disengage from a relationship with the violent father.
The appeal was dismissed. Interim care orders were an appropriate mechanism to achieve the local authority's objective. Once the threshold criteria was met (and it was accepted that they had been), whether or not an interim care orders were made was a welfare issue, and did not involve a test whether there was 'an urgent need to keep the children from their mother'. Interim care orders could last only 8 weeks from the date of the first order and 4 weeks from all subsequent orders however long it was going to take for the final hearing to come on. It had been imperative that the sensible conditions that the authority was offering the mother for return of the children should have been reduced to writing.
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