An application for a CPO is heard in the Youth Courts, which handles cases involving children and young persons under the Children and Young Persons Act.
Children or young persons in need of care and protection
Children and young persons are in need of care and protection if they:
Have no parent or guardian.
Have been abandoned by their parent or guardian, and no suitable persons are willing or able to care for them.
Have a parent or guardian who is unable or has neglected to provide adequate food, clothing, medical aid, housing, care or other life necessities for them.
Have a parent or guardian who is unable or has neglected to properly supervise and control them, which causes them to fall into bad company and be exposed to danger.
Have been or are at risk of being ill-treated by a parent or guardian, or by any other person whom the parent or guardian has not protected them from.
Need to be examined or treated for health conditions and developmental concerns, but their parent or guardian has neglected or refused to do so.
Behave in a manner that is harmful or likely to be harmful to themselves or to other people, and their parent or guardian is unable or unwilling to take necessary steps to remedy the situation or the steps taken by them fail.
Suffer or is likely to suffer from emotional harm due to emotional or psychological abuse by their parent or guardian.
Are homeless and unable to support themselves.
Are begging for money and food.
Are carrying out illegal lotteries, illegal hawking, gambling or other undesirable activities.
Are in danger of a relevant offence being committed against them by their parent, guardian or another member of the same household.
Orders the Youth Courts may make
If satisfied that the child or young person is in need of care and protection, the judge may make any of the following orders:
Order the parent or guardian to sign a bond to exercise proper care and guardianship over the child or young person.
Order the child or young person to be taken care of by a fit person for a specified period of time.
Order the child or young person to stay in a place of safety or a place of temporary care and protection for a specified period of time.
Place the child or young person under the supervision of the Director-General, a child protection officer, an approved welfare officer or a court-appointed person for a specified period of time.
The judge may also order the child or young person and their parent or guardian to attend counselling, psychotherapy or any other assessment, programme or treatment. If such an order is made, the parent or guardian may be required to enter into a bond to comply with the order.
Enhanced care and protection orders
Depending on the nature of the case, the court may issue enhanced care and protection orders (ECPO). These are long-term orders meant to provide stability and certainty in care arrangements for children and young persons up to 21 years of age.
The judge may make an ECPO for the child or young person to be taken care of by a fit person until the child or young person turns 21 years of age, or for a shorter period specified by the court if:
The child or young person is either under an existing CPO for a specified period or longer, or under the care of a caregiver other than the parent or guardian under a voluntary care agreement for a specified period or longer.
The parent or guardian is not fit to care for the child or young person.
It is not appropriate to return the child or young person to the care of the parent or guardian.
The judge may also make an order allowing the Director-General, a child protection officer or a caregiver to make decisions relating to the child or young person.
Refer to Care and Protection Order under the Youth Courts: the essentials