What Is A Supervision Order?

emily gordon brown
Emily Gordon BrownLegal Assessment Specialist @ Lawhive
Updated on 29th January 2024

A supervision order is commonly used when children return home after legal proceedings or when a Special Guardianship Order is granted. It involves regular visits from a social worker to monitor the child and provide extra help if there are ongoing concerns about their safety or well-being.


The goal of a supervision order is to ensure the child’s well-being, covering aspects like care, nourishment, clothing, cleanliness, and a safe and stable environment.

Under a supervision order, the local authority doesn’t have parental responsibility, but they are responsible for taking care of and supporting the child. It can include specific living arrangements, activities, and reporting obligations. Typically, a supervisor is appointed to advise the child, take necessary actions, and consider changes or discontinuation (discharge) of the order if required.

How long does a supervision order last?

Initially, a supervision order can last a year, extending up to three years, or until the child turns 18 unless ended earlier.

What happens on a supervision order? 

When a child is under a supervision order, social workers regularly visit, advise, and support the child and their family. The goal is to follow a plan to improve the child’s well-being at home. 

In the first three months, home visits happen regularly (around every two weeks), with the supervisor having private conversations with the child. Progress is regularly reviewed and the frequency of visits may be adjusted as needed after this initial period. 

As supervision nears its end, the order is reviewed by the Service Manager who decides whether to end it, extend it, or seek a care Order. 

What directions can be included in a supervision order? 

Sometimes, children's services may ask the court to add specific directions to a supervision order. For example, the court might say that a child must: 

  • Live in a specific place; 

  • Go to school regularly, or take part in education; 

  • Undergo medical or mental health assessments to address issues such as self-harm. 

When is a supervision order granted?

A local authority can request a supervision order, or the court might decide to grant one after an initial application for a care order. 

To get a supervision order, the court must believe that the child is suffering harm or is at risk of harm in the future, and the harm is caused by the child’s parents or the parents are unable to protect the child from harm because they can’t control the child.

For a court to grant a supervision order, the local authority must prove these conditions, known as threshold criteria. Then, a plan is created during court proceedings to outline how the supervision order will work, focusing on reducing risks and supporting the child.

What is the difference between a supervision order and a care order? 

A supervision order is different from a care order because it doesn’t give the local authority parental responsibility. Under a supervision order, the responsibility to care for and protect the child remains with the parents or caregiver; the local authority is there to offer advice, assistance, and support to the child. 

As such, under a supervision order, social workers will regularly assess the home and the child to make sure they are being well taken care of. If the quality of care provided to the child is not sufficient or getting worse, the local authority may request additional orders, such as a care order or emergency protection order. 

Essentially, a Care Order gives the local authority power to make decisions for a child, making them what’s called a “looked after child” until adulthood. On the other hand, a supervision order requires the local authority to advise and assist the child but doesn’t grant parental responsibility. 

What is an interim supervision order? 

An interim supervision order is often used when there’s a concern for a child’s safety and the court places them temporarily under the care of the local authority. For example, if a child is in care proceedings and has a child protection plan.

An interim supervision order sets rules for the child, like where they’ll live, who to report to, and certain activities to participate in, all supervised by a designated person. 

This kind of order is intended to be a temporary measure until the court decides on a permanent arrangement. 

What is an education supervision order? 

An education supervision order is a court-approved measure to improve a child’s school attendance. It’s usually sought after trying other solutions, and both parents and the child must cooperate with the Supervising Officer. Failure to do so could result in parents being fined. 

Who can apply for a supervision order? 

The local authority or an authorised person can request a supervision order, currently limited to the NSPCC

Who can discharge a supervision order? 

As a supervision order approaches its end, meetings are held to decide if it should continue. If it’s no longer needed, anyone with parental responsibility can apply to end it, providing they can show a significant change in circumstances. 

If you are considering applying to discharge a supervision order, we strongly advise that you seek advice from a family law solicitor who can support you through the process. 

Can you appeal a supervision order?

It is possible to appeal a supervision order, however doing so is complex, so getting the help of a specialised legal professional is important. In some cases, legal aid may be available if the order relates to your child or children. 

Can a child be removed on a supervision order?

No, a supervision order does not give children’s services the power to take a child away from the family home.

How can we help?

At Lawhive, our family law solicitors are on hand to help you with child arrangements and court orders relating to children. For more information, get in touch with our legal assessment team today.

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