What Does The Children And Social Work Act Mean For Care Leavers?
The Law Of…Changes To The Children And Social Work Act
On April 1st 2018, the new law set out in the Children and Social Work Act 2017 came in to force.
Lois Clifton, Public Law Paralegal, explains these new laws and what they mean for the rights and entitlements of young people leaving care.
The Changes In The Law
The most important update from April 1st 2018 is that Children's Services should offer help to all care leavers up to the age of 25, even if they are not in education or training. Previously, a care leaver over the age of 21 but under 25 would have to be taking part in an agreed program of education or training, or want to return to education or training in order to receive support from Children’s Services. The law has now been extended to include all care leavers post-21.
The Act also includes a selection of 'corporate parenting principles' that have been extended to apply to all care leavers under the age of 25. This includes duties to promote the physical and mental health and well-being of young people, to encourage young people to express their views, wishes and feelings, and to take those views into account.
Given that one of the key issues faced by care leavers is that their views, wishes and feelings are ignored in decisions impacting their lives, these new principals are key. These duties apply to all local authorities, even if they are not the one who is (or was) responsible for the care leaver. Guidance has been published to explain these duties in more detail, which confirms that local authorities must ask themselves: "would this be good enough for my child?"
The Act requires local authorities to publish information about the services it will offer to care leavers that may help them prepare for adulthood and independent living. This is called the 'local offer for care leavers' and it should be updated when appropriate.
How Could This Impact You?
If you are a care leaver who is over 21 and not in education or training, you should now be able to access support from Children’s Services.
As this is a new law, you may find that the Children’s Service in your local authority is not fully up to speed with the changes. If you do not believe that you are receiving adequate support, or if you have notified Children’s Services that you would like to access support and you are still not receiving it, then please contact our public law solicitors today.
If you are not sure whether you are a care leaver, or whether you have a right to support from Children’s Services, call us on our freephone number, or send us a message using our secure E-form. You can also access useful guidance on the Coram Voice Advocacy website.