During a cynical moment, in which we mulled over the possibility that our Prime Minister’s latest offering, which attempts to deter child abuse through criminal sanctions was nothing more than an election stunt doomed to get lost in a cabinet shuffle and never see the light of day, we suddenly remembered the Families Test.
The Families Test was another one of the PM’s initiatives, albeit in collaboration with the Department for Work and Pensions and other stakeholders inside the child welfare sector. Implemented last year, it was designed to ensure that all appropriate policy and legislation was family friendly, by putting it through a Families Test, to ensure that it promoted stability and did not undermine the family unit. We were a bit concerned that the woolly nature of the test would result in it being nothing more than a box ticking exercise at the time, and so we decided to make a Freedom of Information request, to find out how it’s getting on. This is what we wrote:
Dear Prime Minister’s Office,
I’m writing to ask you for an update on the Families Test, which was implemented last October. Specifically:
Have the guidelines been developed further since the October 14th, 2014 Guidance?
What policies and legislation to date have been tested using the Families Test?
Your guidance recommends the creation of a standalone document for analysis regarding the Families Test, in order to have a record of the process – how many departments are using such documents?
What was the outcome for each policy or piece of legislation tested?
Who is given authority to carry out the Test?
Who is in charge of checking that the tests are carried out properly?
What happens if a policy or piece of legislation does not meet the test?
Natasha Phillips, Researching Reform
If we get a response, we will of course update the site and share it with you.
This got us thinking about other bizarre proposals that seemed to have fallen by the way side.
Remember Cinderella Law? Despite being met with abject horror by sensible child welfare campaigners, this law, which was given a nod in the Queen’s Speech, sought to make emotional abuse a criminal offence and send perpetrators away to jail (without clearly defined parameters on what constituted such abuse and without detailed thought as to whether it might cause children greater harm by denying them of a parent who may just have needed counselling and support). Since its introduction in 2014, things have gone eerily quiet – no mention of the law anywhere. What happened to it? Where did it go, we wonder?
Governments make promises about reforming the child welfare sector all the time. But can they keep them?