Children’s charity Article 39 is launching High Court action against the British government for telling local councils that some responsibilities around children in care can be cut back.
In a “myth-busting” guide published last summer, the Department for Education (DfE) set out to address so-called misunderstandings of local authority obligations towards vulnerable children.
Article 39, which is launching a judicial review into the legality of the document, explained it is concerned by the muddying of protections around vulnerable children which seems to conflict with existing law and regulation – and could present serious risk to children in care.
Foster carers must receive at least one unannounced home visit a year as well as planned visits and support from social workers, according to statutory guidance. But the DfE’s myth-buster refers to just one annual visit as the minimum.
The document also advised councils that visits to children in long-term foster care could be reduce to just twice a year – despite the law saying this can only be done with the child’s consent.
The publication also seemed to relax rules around children who have run away. Councils were advised that they could be offered a visit from a social worker once they return home, but existing statutory guidance says this offer is mandatory.