Regulations that came into effect on 1st April, under the Children and Social Work Act (CSWA) 2017, aim to clarify the role of councils as corporate parents of looked after children and young people leaving care. They also place added responsibilities on councils to ensure that these children are properly looked after, which is an important development for families going through the child protection system who feel their children are not being cared for the way they should be.
The newly implemented CSWA regulations require local authorities to bear in mind the seven principles of corporate parenting whilst carrying out their roles in relation to looked after children and care leavers. This duty applies where the local authority is, or was, the local authority looking after the child.
The principles state that a local authority must:
- Act in the best interests, and promote the physical and mental health and wellbeing, of those children and young people
- Encourage those children and young people to express their views, wishes and feelings
- Take into account the views, wishes and feelings of those children and young people
- Help those children and young people gain access to, and make the best use of, services provided by the local authority and its relevant partners
- Promote high aspirations, and seek to secure the best outcomes, for those children and young people
- Promote safety and stability in those children’s home lives, relationships and education or work
- Prepare those children and young people for adulthood and independent living
Greater support for those leaving care also has to be provided. Local authorities now have to carry out an assessment of the needs of care leavers and put together a plan to provide assistance and services to meet those needs. Care leavers must also be given a personal advisor up until they reach the age of 25, if they ask for one. The local authority will also have to publish information on the services they offer which they think might be helpful to care leavers.
Whilst these principles are not new, they will now cover a broad range of areas, not just social care and education, and will apply equally to housing, libraries, leisure, recreation, taxation and any other areas that impact on children and care leavers.
We would encourage families, litigants in person and McKenzies to read the accompanying statutory guidance, even though it is written for councils. It offers a lot of useful information about the duties and responsibilities councils must take on, and provides a useful basis upon which to measure whether a council has fulfilled their duties towards your child.
“Corporate” parenting. Eugh.
Wishing you all a good weekend.