All care order applications in Londonderry this year will be subject to a pilot project aimed at reducing delays that can cause prolonged harm and suffering to children at risk of neglect and abuse.
Justice Minister David Ford said pilots in Londonderry and Newtownards will eventually inform an evaluation report that will be published next year.
“The Family Care Proceedings Pilot was launched on December 30, 2015 following a joint DHSPSS/DOJ scoping exercise on the operation of the family justice system in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“The aim of the Family Care Proceedings Pilot is to promote good decision making and minimise unnecessary delay for children and young people subject to public law proceedings, specifically Article 50 Care Order and Supervision Order applications. Central to the programme is the aim of improving outcomes for children at the earliest possible opportunity,” he added.
The pilots will hopefully identify barriers and develop improved solutions.
“The pilot validation phase will run for 12 months and will include all care order applications lodged by Western and South Eastern Health and Social Care Trusts at the Londonderry and Newtownards Family Proceedings Court. The Pilot will also track cases transferred from the Family Proceedings Court to the relevant Family Care Centre or the High Court,” he said.
Just two cases have been analysed sofar.
“It is anticipated that a formal evaluation report will be produced by my Department’s Analytical Services Group by May 2017,” said Mr Ford.