Together with child rights campaigner Michele Simmons, Researching Reform has produced two consent forms for families and children thinking about entering into a S.20 Agreement.
Michele, whose idea it was to create these forms, wanted to be able to offer parents and children the opportunity to fully inform themselves about these agreements and to protect them from their more controversial, and illegal, use – coercing families to place children in care.
Section 20 Agreements are intended to allow children access to temporary accommodation for a variety of reasons, including situations where parents through no fault of their own are unable to care for their child at that time, and instances where communication breaks down between parent and child. Their purpose and function are outlined in the Children Act 1989.
These agreements have become infamous for their misuse. Their implementation is now being investigated after it emerged that councils were removing children from parents and initiating child protection proceedings through them, which is illegal.
A new row has emerged over whether parental consent should be required before S.20 Agreements are created, with the Supreme Court to rule on this issue in the not too distant future.
In the meantime, The President Of The Family Division has issued guidelines which request all local authorities to obtain parental consent prior to signing off on any S.20 arrangement.
Michele and Researching Reform have put together two forms – One for parents, and one for children who feel able to engage in the process and want to have their wishes and feelings set in writing. The consent forms have been saved in Word files, and uploaded onto Scribd, where the documents can be downloaded free of charge and completed at home.
The forms all come with links to key guides on S.20 Agreements, and other relevant law and policy relating to them, and we would urge parents and children to read them before signing any agreement.
These forms are intended to invite social workers and families to work together and treat S.20 Agreements as supportive collaborations, which is the spirit in which they were intended to work.
If you would like to offer feedback on the content of the forms, we would welcome it.