Supervision Orders – a quick guide by Felicity Drinkwater

A supervision order is applied for by a local authority when there are concerns about a child’s welfare.  These are often applied for alongside, or instead of, an interim care order. 

What is a Supervision Order? 

A supervision order gives the local authority the legal power to ‘advise, assist and befriend’ a child.  In essence, this gives it the power to help care for and supervise the care of that child.  As with an interim care order, a supervision order is a public law legal order which can only be applied for if the local authority believes that child is at risk from suffering, or already suffering, significant harm. 

Unlike an interim care order, a supervision order does not bestow on the local authority parental responsibility for the child, and as such would not necessarily give the local authority the power to remove that child from their home.  When a supervision order is in place, the parental responsibility remains with the parents (or carers if they have had parental responsibility bestowed on them by other means) of the child.  A supervision order may come with a supervision order support plan, which parents would be legally obligated to work within. 

Supervision orders are applied for under Section 35 of the Children Act. 

While a supervision order is enforced, it is the duty of the supervisor (usually the social worker) to:

(a) Advise, assist and befriend a supervised child;

(b) Take such steps as reasonably necessary to give effect to the order, and

(c) Where the order is not wholly complied with, or the supervisor considers that the order may no longer be necessary, to apply to the court for the variation or discharge of the order. 

Supervision orders are therefore usually temporary, made on an interim basis during court proceedings, or for a fixed length thereafter.  They are usually made for 6 or 12 months, although they can be discharged or stopped earlier if the court, the social work team, or local authority deem it appropriate.  At the end of the 6 or 12 months, supervision orders can be extended.  They can be extended for a total duration (in combination) of 3 years. 

Discharge of a Supervision Order

Before the supervision order expires, the local authority and social work team would hold regular meetings with a parent or carer (around every 8 weeks) to consider whether the order needs to be extended or discharged.  If it is decided that the supervision order no longer needs to be in place, the local authority will apply to discharge the care order. 

It is possible for a parent to make an application to discharge a supervision order but they must prove that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the original order was put into place. 

Can a legal aid application be made for a Supervision Order?

Parents with parental responsibility are granted automatic legal aid as they would in proceedings for a care order.  These are not means tested nor merits tested. 

How can we help you?

Bromleys Solicitors have significant experience in dealing with care and supervision orders.  Should you require any assistance in relation to the application of or duration of a supervision order, please do not hesitate to get in contact with one of our specialist care proceedings and children services team who can help you with any concerns you may have. Contact our team, on our dedicated helpline 0161 694 4149 or email for your free initial telephone discussion. If you prefer, you can fill in our online form or alternatively, you can email us on and we’ll call you back.