Supervision Order Guidance

This is local guidance that was added to the manual in December 2023.

1. What is a Supervision Order?

Under Section 31 (2) of the Children Act 1989, on the conclusion of care proceedings, the local authority can be granted a Supervision Order. A Supervision Order has the same threshold criteria as a Care Order, but the two orders are completely different in application. A Care Order gives the local authority Parental Responsibility for a child. A Supervision Order does not, but it places a responsibility on the local authority to "advise, assist and befriend" the child and by extension, the people with whom the child lives.

A Supervision Order is designed to allow the local authority to keep a reasonable amount of oversight of the child where there has been harm or a risk of harm but not enough continuing harm to warrant a Care Order.

A plan as to how a Supervision Order is to be implemented will be submitted to the court during proceedings. Children and young people who are subject of a Supervision Order will have a plan in place to ensure that any agreed actions by the family and professionals are clear and outcome focused. The plan should be specific and purposeful in its aim to reduce risk and build on strengths to support the child in their care arrangement (now and across the future).

2. The scope of a supervision order

The court can impose certain conditions on a child subject to a Supervision Order as outlined in Schedule 3 (sections 35, 36) Children Act 1989.

A Supervision Order, made under S35 of the Children Act 1989, allows the local authority to appoint a 'supervisor' who will 'advise, assist and befriend the supervised child' and take whatever steps are necessary to make the supervision order work. Supervision orders are normally made for six months or 12 months at a time.

Children Act 1989, Section 35
Supervision orders.

  1. While a supervision order is in force it shall be the duty of the supervisor-
    1. To advise, assist and befriend the supervised child;
    2. To take such steps as are reasonably necessary to give effect to the order; and
    3. Where -
      1. The order is not wholly complied with; or
      2. The supervisor considers that the order may no longer be necessary;
      3. To consider whether or not to apply to the court for its variation or discharge.
  2. Parts I and II of Schedule 3 make further provision with respect to supervision orders.

3. The Supervision Care plan

The Public Law Working Group (PLWG) Supervision Order Report and Best Practice Guidance (BPG) has been "welcomed and endorsed" by the President of the Family Division. The report was published on 24th April 2023 (April 2023 Report (Supervision Orders) - Final ( and sets out recommendations for LA's and best practice guidance.

A recommendation of ending care proceedings on a Supervision Order should not be made lightly. The decision should be underpinned by three main principles:

  1. The child's welfare is paramount;
  2. Children are best looked after within their families, with their parents playing a full part in their lives, unless compulsory intervention in family life is necessary;
  3. Any interference in family life should be necessary and proportionate. That means action taken should be no more than is needed to achieve the aim of keeping the child safe and well.

The Public Law Working Group has produced a Best Practice Guidance which sets out six best practice principles when developing the Supervision care plan.

Core Principle Guidance
1. Partnership and co-production with children and families

Trusting, supportive relationships between children, families and social workers are key. They are central to the success of plans to support children to remain with their parent(s) and central to plans for children to return home to the care of their parent(s).

Plans to support children to remain at home or return home should be drawn up in partnership. An approach of co-production between children's services, children and their family should be taken.

Significant adults from the family and friends' network should be involved. How children will be involved, and their views reflected. Family group conferences (or similar) will have a role to play. This includes: i) Identifying the support available within the child's family and friends' network ii) Understanding the help and services the child and family need to keep the child safe and well cared for iii) Informing and shaping the final plan to support the child and family.

Active and careful thought about social, cultural and health inequalities or differences should be given. Care should be taken to ensure parents and other family members can fully take part in meetings.

2. The skills, knowledge and resources of a range of agencies and disciplinary and multi-agency working

The skills, knowledge and resources of a range of agencies and disciplinary and multi-agency working organisations will be central to:

  • Developing an effective plan;
  • Putting that plan into action;
  • Informing robust review of progress;
  • Key agencies, organisations and services will often include: housing, health (e.g. GP, health visiting services, Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services, substance misuse organisations), education (e.g. nursery, school) and where necessary, the police.

Clear information should be available to the court and parties about:

  • The structures and processes that will be used to achieve this multidisciplinary and multi-agency working (and this should be included in the plan itself);
  • How the family's insights and own plans for meeting the child's needs have informed and shaped multi-agency working and the plan to support the child to remain at/return home.
3. A clear, tailored plan to support children to remain at home with their parents, or return plan

A plan to support children to remain at home with their parents, or return plan home to them, should keep the child in focus.

They should be tailored not formulaic. They should be written in plain language. The ongoing risks the plan aims to address and the needs that will be met should be clearly set out. These should speak to the findings and conclusions of the court in the care proceedings.

  • What needs to happen to address those risks and needs should be clear and specific;
  • Intended outcomes should be set out in plain terms. What will be better?'
  • Outcomes should be timed and it should be clear how progress is to be monitored and measured. What is the deadline?
  • The expectations and responsibilities of the local authority and the family should be specific. They should be updated as plans progress;
  • What actions have been agreed to help achieve the outcomes? Who is responsible for progressing particular elements of the plan?

Regular reviews should take place of the plan and progress recorded against each need/ risk and action identified to support an on - going analysis of progress.

4. Resource clarity

It is vital that there are resources in place to support the child and family under the plan drawn up. Before care proceedings conclude, the resource arrangements for each element of the plan should be confirmed and recorded. This includes all human, material and financial resources, including the funding of specific services and supports.

Any financial commitments outlined in the plan should be discussed and approved by the overseeing Head of Service before being committed in the plan and being filed before the Court.

5. Formal, robust The framework used to review progress should be clearly detailed and followed

The framework used to review progress should be clearly detailed before proceedings are concluded.

The plan itself should include the following detail:

  • The forum, processes, and initial timescales for review and when the first review will take place;
  • Who will chair the review process;
  • What parents should be able to expect from the review process;
  • How parents and their networks will be actively involved and what support will be available to ensure they can participate effectively;
  • How children's views will inform, and be reflected in, the review process in a manner which is consistent with their age and understanding.
6. Accountability

The court and parties should have clear information about:

  • How, and with whom, families can raise concerns about progress under the plan. This includes where there has been delay in providing services and support;
  • What families should be able to expect by way of an initial timely response (once their concern has been raised);
  • The approach to be taken if children's services have concerns about progress under the plan. This includes details of any specific processes that will be followed;
  • Details of where families can find information about the formal complaints process should be provided, though that should not be the principal way by which families are expected to raise concerns;

4. Management and Review of children subject of a Supervision Order

Children subject to Supervision Orders are allocated to social workers, who will visit, advise, assist and befriend the child and support their family to ensure that the action plan to improve the welfare of the child within the home is carried out. These situations are generally managed under the Child In Need framework and will follow the government guidance in relation to the frequency of reviews/CiN meetings.

However, in some circumstances, it may be necessary to consider a Child Protection Conference if the level of concern or risk begins to escalate. A decision for a child to be subject to a Supervision Order alongside a Child Protection plan will require Service Manager endorsement of both the Safeguarding Department Service Manager and the area Service Manager. The rationale for this should be clearly placed on the child's file by the responsible Service Manager.

It is expected that the frequency of home visits within the first 3 months of a Supervision Order is fortnightly for all children subject to Supervision Orders regardless of whether they are subject to a Child in Need or a Child Protection plan. During each visit, the child/ren should be seen and spoken to alone.

There will be a Supervision Order review at 3 and 9 months. In line with good practice, this will be chaired by an independent person. In Rotherham the independent person will be a Child Protection Conference chair or Independent Reviewing Officer. This principle applies to children subject to Child in Need plans as well as those subject to Child Protection plans.

The 3 and 9 month Child in Need meeting or Core Group meeting will become a Supervision Order review; this meeting will be chaired by a Child Protection Conference Chair or Independent Reviewing Officer. For those subject to Child in Need plans, a chair will be appointed for these reviews. If the Supervision Order duration is less than 12 months, the allocated Child Protection Conference Chair or Independent Reviewing Officer, responsible Team Manager and Social Worker, will agree an initial and final supervision review date.

The Child Protection Conference Chair / Independent Reviewing Officer will consider the progress of the supervision plan and the visiting schedule. The Social Worker, responsible Team Manager, the team around the child, alongside parents, significant family members (with PR holders' consent) and the child (where appropriate) should attend the review.

If there are concerns about progress or practice it will be the responsibility of the Child Protection Conference Chair / Independent Reviewing Officer and responsible Team Manager to escalate this to the Service Manager for oversight following the meeting.

After the 3 month review, visits should take place in line with assessed need but at least monthly during the period of the supervision order. Visiting pattern should be agreed at the review meeting. If the child/ren is/are subject to Child Protection planning alongside the Supervision Order, visits should take place at a minimum of fortnightly.

In preparation for the 9 month review, an updated child assessment should be completed. This assessment should consider the progress of the Supervision Order plan and make recommendations for the 9 month review to consider. This assessment should be provided to the parents / carers, professional network (with parental consent) and the linked Child Protection Conference Chair at least 10 working days prior to the 9 month review. The child should be provided an age appropriate narrative of the assessment recommendations and outcomes.

At 9 months, a final review of the Supervision Order, chaired by the Child Protection Conference chair / Independent Reviewing Officer will take place. The Child Protection conference chair/ Independent Reviewing Officer will review the progress and consider whether to:

  • End the Supervision Order on expiry of the order; or,
  • Return to court to extend the Supervision Order or seek a Care Order.

The decision from this review will inform the actions at the final CiN meeting which will take place at 12 months (the final month of the supervision order). If circumstances have changed between the 9 and 12 month review, these should be urgently reviewed with the linked Child Protection Conference Chair / Independent Reviewing Officer and responsible Team Manager/ Service Manager so next steps can be determined.

If circumstances have not changed and it continues to be assessed as safe, at the 12 month anniversary date of the Supervision Order the child/ren may be stepped down to Early Help provision or the child/ren may be closed to service. The final Child in Need meeting should produce an 'exit' Child in Need support plan that explores how the parents, family network and universal support provision will continue to support the family manage any on - going vulnerabilities / needs. This is with an aim to support long term maintenance of the change and progress made during the supervision order period.

All Child in Need/Child Protection meetings and Supervision Order reviews should result in an updated Supervision Order plan. This is the responsbility of the allocated Social Worker. This plan should be shared with parents, those involved in the planning and an age appropriate narrative provided to the child, within 10 working days of the meeting.

It will be the responsbility of the chair of the review to place on the child's case recording system a summary analysis of the progress of the supervision order plan following the 3 and 9 month meeting. To include:

  • What is working well?
  • What we are worried about?
  • What the above tell us about overall progress of the supervision plan?
  • What needs to happen next?

The child's voice should remain focal to planning throughout and support the development and implementation of the supervision plan.

5. Interim Supervision Orders

In some situations, a child going into Care Proceedings may be subject to an Interim Supervision Order. The same guidance applies for these children.