The Department for Education (DfE) has scrapped controversial “myth busting” guidance sent to councils after children’s rights charity Article 39 took legal action against it.
The DfE said it removed the guidance from circulation to avoid “divert[ing] time and public money to litigation.”
Article 39 launched a judicial review into the legality of the document last month, as reported by The Big Issue. The charity explained it was 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.
While regulation advises local authorities that 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, 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 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.