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The courts may make a care and protection order if satisfied that a child is at risk (s42). These orders can be for a period up to 12 months, or until such time as the child attains 18 years of age (s42(4)). A court may make a care and protection order to preserve a situation if it is satisfied that proper arrangements exist for the care and protection of the child and the child would be likely to suffer significant psychological harm if the arrangements were to be disturbed and it would be in the best interest of the child for the arrangement to be incorporated in a care and protection order (s42(3)).

Orders may include conditions to be observed by the child, the guardian of the child, a person with whom the child is living, the Secretary, a person who is to supervise the child, a person who is granted custody of the child, and any other person who is involved with the care and protection of the child.

The order may contain one or more of the following:

  • an order requiring the child or its guardian to do something specified in the order or to refrain from doing something specified in the order for a period of up to 12 months;
  • an order granting custody of the child to either a guardian of the child, a member of the child’s family, the Chief Executive Officer of a non government organisation that provides facilities for the residential care of children, the Secretary, or any other person that the court considers appropriate in the circumstances for a period of up to 12 months;
  • an order placing the child, for a specified period not exceeding 12 months, under the guardianship of the Secretary; or one or 2 other persons;
  • an order placing the child under the guardianship of the Secretary or one or 2 other persons until the child turns 18 years of age;
  • an order providing for access to the child;
  • an order providing for the way in which a person who has custody or guardianship of the child under an order of the court is to deal with matters relating to the care, protection, health, welfare or education of the child;
  • any other order of the court considers appropriate.

Where an order has been made for a period of up to 12 months, that period may be extended by the court on application of the Secretary for a total period not exceeding 3 years.  However, before an extension may be granted, a family group conference must be held to review to review the arrangements for securing the care and protection of the child (s44).

A care and protection order may be varied or revoked by the court at any time (s48). 

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