Variation and Revocation of Care Orders


Schedule 2 of the Review of Children's Cases Regulations 1991 requires that Looked After Reviews consider whether a change in a child's legal status should be sought.


Variation and revocation of existing Care Orders made in respect of the child should be discussed at every review.

This subject is identified as an issue for discussion on the CLA's Review of Arrangements form.

This procedure explains the:

  • Issues to consider in relation to each case;
  • Steps to be taken in relation to varying or discharging a Care Order before the Looked After Review;
  • Steps to be taken after a Review has recommended an application for variation or revocation and this recommendation has been ratified.


See: Child Looked After Reviews Procedure.


Please see Local Resources for the:

  • Applications to Discharge Care Orders - Local Practice Direction; and
  • Applications to Discharge Care Orders - Template Document.

1. Introduction

Prior to each Looked After Review, the allocated social worker should consider in discussion with the Team Manager whether variation or revocation of a Care Order is in the child's best interests.

Primary consideration should be given to:

  • Whether the original reasons for the order still apply;
  • Whether the circumstances have altered in such a way that there is no longer a need for a care order.

The additional issues to consider include:

  • Placement with parents. If the child has been placed with parents for a year or more, consider whether the placement is going well, whether the parents are working in co-operation and partnership with the department, whether the child is still likely to suffer Significant Harm?
  • Foster placements. Consideration needs to be given to whether any other order or no order at all would allow the child's needs to be met. Consider whether foster carers might apply for an Adoption Order or Child Arrangements Order or a Special Guardianship Order in respect of the child;
  • If the young person is 16 or over and is living independently or semi-independently, consider whether it is in the best interests of the young person to remain on a Care Order. Consider revocation as a step towards independence. Consider the young person's access to benefits.

The need for social work support or the need for financial support through boarding out allowances should not preclude revocation of a Care Order.

The social worker should look at other ways to provide support.

Proposed variations to or revocations of Care Orders should be discussed with other parties prior to the Looked After Review.

If a change in circumstance warrants variation or revocation consideration should be given to bringing forward the Looked After Review. This should be done in consultation with the Independent Reviewing Officer.

Child and their Parent(s)

The child or the child's parents may also consider variation or discharge of a Care Order.

Their views should be discussed at the Looked After Review.

If there is disagreement with the Local Authority, they are entitled to make the application to court themselves, and should be advised to seek their own legal advice on this.

Foster Carers

Foster carers can apply for a Child Arrangements Order with the agreement of the Local Authority.

They can apply for a Child Arrangements Order without the agreement of the Local Authority if:

  1. They are a relative of the child; or
  2. the child has lived with them for a total of at least 3 years out of the last 5 years.

Foster carers can also apply for an Adoption Order in respect of a child who is at least 12 months old and who has lived with the applicant at all times during the last 12 months.

Disagreements between foster carers and the Local Authority

Foster carers can apply for an Adoption Order without the agreement of the Local Authority where the child has lived with them continuously for 12 months prior to the application.

If they do this the Non Agency Adoptions Procedure (One Adoption) will apply.

If at all possible, such disagreements should be anticipated and every effort made to arrive at an agreement with the foster carers.

2. What Variations should be Considered

The following options should be considered:

  • No order at all;
  • Special Guardianship Order;
  • Supervision Order;
  • Child Arrangements Order;
  • A combination of Section 8 orders - Child Arrangements Order, Supervision Order, Prohibited Steps Order, Specific Issues Order;
  • Adoption Order.

3. Recommendation to Apply for Variation or Revocation

The recommendation to apply for variation or revocation should be discussed and agreed at the Looked After Review.

4. Ratification of Recommendation

The recommendation to apply for variation or revocation should be ratified in line with the Child Looked After Reviews Procedure.

5. Applying for Variation or Revocation

The application should be made in line with the Care Proceedings - Information for Social Workers Procedure. The following Sections should be referred to:

1. Initiating Care Proceedings

  1. Completion of COU1i in seeking legal advice and agreement of a Principal Officer to initiate Care Proceedings;
  2. Completion of a written statement and a chronology of significant events to be presented to the Court in order to outline the change of circumstances that leads to the Local Authority seeking the revocation of the order;
  3. A Care Plan will also need to be filed should the Local Authority be seeking the making of a Supervision Order or Special Guardianship Order.

2. Conducting Care Proceedings

Paragraphs 5.1 to 5.14. This covers:

  1. Directions hearings;
  2. Filing evidence;
  3. Preparation for court;
  4. The hearing.

6. What to do When the Order has been Varied or Revoked

A copy of the new court order should be put on the case file by the social worker.

The social worker should also update the child's legal status on the relevant computer records.

In most situations the revocation of a Care Order would result in a child ceasing to be Looked After, therefore the episode should be closed.

Exceptions to this would be when a child continues to be Accommodated, for example in preparation for independent living.

If ongoing support is required, the social worker should draft a Child In Need plan or consider further work with the family being undertaken through universal services lead through an Early Intervention Child and Family Single Assessment, with the carers in line with the Contacts and Referrals for Children in Need Procedure and Child and Family Single Assessment Guidance. This should indicate what involvement is needed and what involvement has been agreed.

The social worker and their Team Manager should review progress on the action plan.