Children and Social Work Bill: this Bill has been introduced into the House of Lords and received its 1st Reading. The Bill improves decision making, and support for looked after and previously looked after children, enables better learning about effective approaches to child protection and the wider provision of children’s social care and enables the establishment of a new regulatory regime specifically for the social work profession in England. In particular, it introduces a new ‘Care Leavers’ Covenant’ underpinned by a statutory duty requiring local authorities to publish the services and standards of treatment to which care leavers are entitled. It will also require courts and local authorities to take better account of a child’s need for stability up to the age of 18 when making decisions about their future, and places a duty on local authorities and schools to promote educational achievement for adopted children and those in the long-term care of family members or guardians. (19 May 2016)
LGA: Get in on the Act – Childcare Act 2016: the Childcare Act, which received Royal Assent in March, takes forward government commitments to secure an additional entitlement of childcare support for working parents. The Act extends the entitlement to 30 hours free childcare over 38 weeks of the year for three- and four-year-olds in families where all parents are working. This publication provides an introduction to the Act and summarises the main issues on which LGA campaigned. (15 May 2016)
LGA: Best start in life – Promoting good emotional wellbeing and mental health for children and young people: this briefing contains examples of councils that are looking at innovative ways to provide support with a focus on children and families rather than static services, as well as more information about the scale of the problem and what steps can be taken. (20 May 2016)
DfE: Statutory Direction to Torbay Council in relation to children’s services under section 497A(4B) of the Education Act 1996: the DfE has issued a Direction requiring Torbay Council to co-operate with a commissioner appointed by the Education Secretary. It follows publication on 5 January 2016 of a report by Ofsted that judged the overall effectiveness of Torbay’s children’s social care services as inadequate. (12 May 2016)
Prime Minister's Office: Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to be resettled from Europe: the Prime Minister has announced a new initiative for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to be resettled in the UK from Greece, Italy and France. Priority will be given to those at risk of trafficking or exploitation. He states that the Government is not putting a fixed number on arrivals, but will instead work with local authorities across the UK to determine how many children will be resettled. (4 May 2016)
Re RA (Baby Relinquished for Adoption: Case Management)  EWFC 25 (Fam Ct): in this case, the court considered case management issues in adoption proceedings concerning RA, a baby born in the UK to Latvian parents, who had been relinquished by his parents at birth. The parents consented to RA's adoption by his foster carers and the local authority supported the adoption application. However, the Latvian authorities strongly opposed RA's adoption in the UK and wished RA to be cared for by his grandmother in Latvia. The court made a number of case management directions and gave guidance on how local authorities might in the future wish to approach issues which arise in similar cases. (6 May 2016)
JG v Kent CC  EWHC 1102 (Admin) (Admin Ct): T, aged 14, was diagnosed by psychiatrists as suffering from unsocialised conduct disorder with mixed neurodevelopmental difficulties that manifested itself in sudden and violent outbursts of rage. His parents applied for judicial review of the Council's discharge of its duties under s.20 of the Children Act 1989. T applied for judicial review of the Council's decision that responsibility for providing T's special educational needs had been transferred to S Council when he and his father moved to that area.
The court held, granting the applications, that the Council had not lawfully discharged their duties under s.20. The only conclusion to which the Council could have come was that T's parents were prevented from providing him with suitable accommodation, at least on a full-time basis; it had also failed to follow statutory guidance. However, the level of harm was not such as to cross the high threshold set by Art.3 ECHR. His behaviour to his siblings was frightening and, at times, painful, but it did not reach the minimum level of severity which was necessary for ill-treatment to be equivalent to 'inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'. Nor was the risk of worse violence by T (and which might have crossed the Art.3 threshold) 'real and immediate'. The Council's decision that T had 'moved' to S Council for the purposes of Regulation 23 of the Education (Special Educational Needs) (England) (Consolidation) Regulations 2001 was unlawful. It was clear that T's father saw his departure from Kent as temporary and it was plainly prompted by a fear that, unless T was removed from the family home, his siblings would suffer further violence. All the circumstances, together with the breaches of the Children Act 1989 meant that it would be conspicuously unfair for the Council now to rely on the father's and T's departure for S Council. (13 May 2016)