10,000 signatures reached
To: The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP Secretary of State for Education
Defend children’s rights in care – withdraw Statutory Instrument 445
Withdraw Statutory Instrument 445 now
Why is this important?
On 24 April 2020, Statutory Instrument 445* removed and weakened legal protections from children in care (and children who could come into care) in England.
There was no public consultation or Parliamentary debate. The changes were brought in overnight.
Councils in England are now allowed to reduce social worker visits to children in care (which can be by phone, video or other electronic means). Even a six-weekly telephone call is no longer mandatory.
The duty to have an independent six-monthly review for each child has been removed.
Pre-court scrutiny and other vital safeguards in adoption have been lost.
Legal timescales for children's homes inspections have been removed, and independent scrutiny of children's homes diluted.
Safeguards for children placed out of their home area with people who are not connected to them have been removed.
Safeguards in relation to short breaks have been removed. This particularly affects disabled children.
Even duties on fostering services to notify Ofsted of criminal convictions and infectious disease have been reduced.
These changes weaken vital safeguards for vulnerable children built up over 70 years.
The government says the changes are temporary until 25 September 2020 “unless extended”. But some of the changes extend beyond the expiry date. Moreover, the government has a track record of trying to remove and dilute councils’ duties.
In 2016/17, Ministers tried to get a law through Parliament which would have allowed councils to opt out of their children’s social care duties for up to six years – as an experiment for removing them altogether.
Children’s rights campaigners and charities have consistently stood together to successfully defend children’s legal protections.
Please join us in pressing to urgently reinstate children’s rights in care.
*Its full title is The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.