What is a Family Assistance Order?

A Family Assistance Order (FAO) is a short-term order which the Court can grant under Section 16 of the Children Act 1989 requiring a CAFCASS officer or an officer from the Local Authority to advise, assist and (where appropriate) befriend any person in the named order.

A FAO is a means of providing additional social care support to families who are experiencing difficulties in order to help the family. It can often be in relation to facilitating and monitoring contact. The officer named in the order will have a lot of experience of working with families and be able to provide helpful advice and support.

Any of the following can be named in the order:

  • A parent
  • Child’s Guardian
  • Anyone with whom the child is living or who has an order for contact with the child; or
  • The child themselves.

A FAO can only be made where every person named in the order (other than the child) has given their consent.

A FAO will only be made when a Judge considers it appropriate to make such an order. You cannot apply for a FAO as a freestanding Order. It may be possible during the course of applying for another order such as a Contact Enforcement Order or Child Arrangements Order to ask the Court to consider making a FAO.  A FAO can only be made for a period of 12 months or less.

If a CAFCASS worker or Social Worker has been involved with the family previously throughout the case, it is likely that person may continue in the role of helping the family under a FAO. They will help assist the family in identifying what support may be required and can be someone who the child/children can speak to about any changes or consequences of the final order made. There is usually a meeting once the FAO has been made in order to discuss what needs to happen for the arrangement to be successful.

At the end of the order, a short written review shall be prepared by the CAFCASS officer or Local Authority Officer on what has occurred during the period of the FAO. A copy will be provided to all those named in the order.

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