Removing the jargon from Kinship Care

There is enough to think about and deal with when you are considering or newly becoming a kinship carer without the extra barrier of trying to navigate through the often overwhelming jargon and legal language used by many professionals. We have put together a glossary of frequently used terms with explanations of what they mean. We hope you find this useful and feel free to contact us if you have suggestions for any additions or amendments. 

Open dictionary


Adoption is the process where all parental rights and responsibilities for a child are permanently transferred to an adoptive parent by a Court and the child legally becomes part of the adoptive family.

Care Order

A care order is given by a Court and puts a child under the care of the Local Authority. The Local Authority then shares parental responsibility for the child with the parents/carers. Jointly they will make most of the important decisions about the child's upbringing, such as where they live and what school they go to.

Care Order (Interim)

This is an order made by a Court before the final hearing and a final decision is made about the child’s future. The initial interim care order is for 8 weeks and then 4 weeks on renewal.

Care Plan

The Local Authority must put a Care Plan in place for every child in its care. A Care Plan must also be produced for Court in relation to care or supervision orders. The Care Plan will have details of a child’s current and future needs, placement details, family views and details of the support offered.

Care Proceedings

A court process when the Local Authority is concerned about a child’s safety. In these cases, the court may make an Emergency Protection Order, an Interim Care Order or a Care Order. In such cases, the Local Authority share Parental Responsibility with the child’s parents.

Case Management Hearing (CMH)

This is a court hearing that takes place during the care proceedings. The purpose is to look at the care plan and make sure all the key decisions have been followed. It looks at what other things should be put in place before the final hearing.

Child Arrangement Order

Child Arrangements Orders were introduced in April 2014 by the Children and Families Act (2014). They replaced Contact Orders and Residence Orders. This is a Court Order relating to where a child can live, who they can spend time or have contact with. Sometimes the order can last until the child is 18 years of age. Parental Responsibility is given to the person the child goes to live with.

Child Arrangement Order - Interim

This order is similar to the above but does not take away the birth parents Parental Responsibility.

Child in Need

A Child in Need must be under the age of 18 and need the help of the Local Authority in order to be safe from harm, prevent a risk to their health and or development. The term Child in Need can also apply to disabled children.

Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS)

An independent Court that advises family courts on what it thinks is the best interests of the child during law cases.

Children’s Guardian

This is an independent experienced social worker who may be asked by a Judge to look at the child’s situation and make recommendations. A court will automatically appoint a Guardian if there is an Emergency Protection Order or Care Order for a child or when the case is seen to be complex.

Contact Order

This is a court order that says who the child can have contact with (direct or indirect contact).

Middlesbrough Multi-Agency Children’s Hub

A Multi-Agency Team that offers help and support to children, young people and families. The team support and proactively work with families so they get the best outcomes possible.

Education, Health & Care Plan (EHC)

A single legal document detailing a child’s education, health and care needs. Services identified in the plan must be carried out by named organisations/ workers.

Family Group Conference

A holistic approach where families can come together and identify where they can access help and support.

Family Information Directory Service

An online information site that tells children and families what services are available in Middlesbrough.


Fostering is when you look after and care for children and young people who cannot live at home with their own families. They may stay with you for a few days, weeks, months or even years. Foster Carers receive training, an allowance and fees. You need to be aged 21 years + and there may be some restrictions on who can be a Foster Carer (ie someone who smokes).

Looked After Children (LAC)

A looked after child is ‘in the care’ or ‘accommodated’ by the Local Authority under section 20 of the Children Act 1989. A Court gives the Local Authority the power to remove a child from the care of its parents. This can be done under an interim care order, a full care order or an emergency protection order.

My Family Plan

A process for creating a plan to help the child and the family through conversations. This is a solution-focused approach to improve outcomes for the whole family.

Regulation 24 Placement

A law that allows Children’s Services to place a child with a family member or friend in an emergency situation.

Special Guardianship

Taking on the legal powers and responsibility of parenting a child until their 18th birthday. Birth parents do not lose their parental responsibility. Special Guardians make most decisions to do with the child’s upbringing, including where the child lives, goes to school and medical treatment they receive.

Supervised Contact

This is when someone else is present while the child has contact with another person. This could be an employed service, family member or friend.


Relating to accommodation for a looked after child or young person. The placement can relate to fostering or residential as long as it meets the child or young person’s needs.


Moving from Children’s Services to Adult Services.