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Whilst the outbreak of Covid-19 is likely to cause some disruption to WillisPalmer services in the short-term, we are issuing guidance outlining our plans to minimise the impact of the virus.

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High Court to consider judicial review over care legislation

The High Court will this week consider a judicial review against The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 which were introduced on 24 April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The judicial was brought against the Department for Education by the children’s rights charity Article 39 on grounds including that they are contrary to the objects and purpose of primary legislation, and against the Education Secretary’s general duty to promote the well-being of children in England.

The regulations sought to temporarily amend 10 sets of regulations relating to children’s social care in England, with the Explanatory Memorandum stating that the changes are intended to help local authorities to “prioritise the needs of children, whilst relaxing some administrative and procedural obligations…but maintaining appropriate safeguards” during the coronavirus outbreak.

Article 39 said it can count 65 separate removals or dilutions of children’s legal protections affecting children in care, and children who could come into care in England.

In a written statement of 14 July 2020, the Minister, Vicky Ford, said that, subject to a short consultation, “the overwhelming majority of these regulations will expire as planned on 25 September”. The statement also noted that the regulations had been “rarely used and only in response to coronavirus”.

The government has, however, said it seeks to extend the temporary regulations in certain areas such as in relation to virtual visits, the frequency of Ofsted inspections, and medical reports during the adoptions process following consultation. The government has said that any extensions would be made via a new Statutory Instrument which will be laid before the House 21 days before it comes into effect.

A briefing describes the laying of the Statutory Instrument, its content, and reaction from the sector. It includes commentary from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, the Children’s Commissioner for England, and charity organisations.

The briefing also references reports from the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Committee and the Joint Select Committee on Statutory Instruments. The Joint Committee sought to draw “the special attention of both Houses to these Regulations on the grounds that they require elucidation in three respects and are defectively drafted in one respect” and the House of Lords Committee expressed “regrets that the Children’s Commissioner, amongst others, was not consulted and that guidance was not published earlier” on the regulations.


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Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

Deprivation of liberty orders triple for children in care

06/08/2020

Deprivation of liberty orders placed on children in care have tripled in the last two years, an investigation by BBC News has revealed.

The investigation showed that deprivation of liberty orders are increasingly being used to detain children in homes when suitable accommodation cannot be found.

Director of children’s rights charity Article 39 Carolyne Willow slammed the [...]

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Schools should be the last place to be locked down in any future outbreaks, says commissioner

05/08/2020

Schools should be the last places to be locked down if any local or national lockdown takes place, the children’s commissioner for England has warned.

Anne Longfield argues that if any lockdown takes place, schools should be the last places to be locked down, after pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops.

She says that given what it known [...]

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Majority of local authorities struggle to recruit experienced social workers

04/08/2020

Just two per cent of local authorities in England find it easy to recruit experienced social workers, Department for Education research has found.

The fifth wave of the DfE Children’s Services Omnibus Survey, which looks at senior local authority and Children’s Services Trust’s leaders’ perceptions on, and activities relating to, a range of policy areas, found [...]

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