Troublesome accommodation arrangements organised by local authorities for vulnerable children are to going to be investigated by a group hoping to learn more about why there is a gap in good practice when it comes to the use of Section 20.
Section 20 arrangements stem from the Children Act 1989, and allow a local authority to place a child in accommodation where there may be child welfare concerns.
Section 20 arrangements have come under the spotlight for improper use by local authorities, which includes trying to force parents to agree to these arrangements and using S.20 arrangements as a way to secure care proceedings.
Another concern is that current thinking suggests there is no duty on councils to get written or other forms of consent from parents when offering children accommodation, which makes it easier for councils to misuse this legislation. The thinking also contradicts guidance issued by the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, which says all S.20 agreements must be in writing and show parents’ consent, obtained in full.
Now, Your Family, Your Voice, an alliance of families and child protection practitioners developed by Family Rights Group to counter the stigma and negative presumptions about families whose children are subject to, or at risk of, state intervention, has set up a Knowledge Inquiry to look at S.20 Arrangements in practice.
Their website tells us the following:
The Knowledge Inquiry is also being supported by a panel, or Reference Group, who will be sharing their knowledge and experience with the Inquiry:
The Inquiry would like to hear from as many people as possible, including children, parents, kinship carers, lawyers and policy makers. The full list is added here:
If you’d like to take part, choose your questionnaire from below and complete it online:
- Questionnaire For Parents
- Questionnaire For Children and Young People
- Questionnaire For Voluntary Organisations, Policy Makers and Academics
- Questionnaire For Kinship Carers
- Questionnaire For Foster Carers
- Questionnaire For Lawyers
- Questionnaire For Social Workers and Managers
Good luck, and let us know what you thought of the questionnaires.