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About this book

How do you apply the principles, structures and processes of the law to everyday practice? Drawing on a wealth of contemporary case examples, this handy pocket book demystifies the complex legislation on Looked After Children and demonstrates the practical duties and responsibilities of professionals working with this group.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
The state’s care of children outside their families changed radically during the twentieth century and continues to develop. In the previous century, apart from some boarding-out initiatives, organized by philanthropic individuals within the Poor Law provisions (George, 1970, ch. 1), little attention was paid to the welfare of the orphaned or abandoned child. After years of failed campaigns, in response to the deaths of numerous children looked after for reward by so-called ‘baby farmers’, the first law regulating the care of children, the Infant Life Protection Act 1872, reached the statute book. Several statutory provisions followed, but none proved effective in terms of improving the lot of the children involved, least of all, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act 1889, the transfer to the Poor Law guardians of parental responsibility for children removed from their parents on the grounds of mistreatment or neglect (Hendrick, 1994, ch. 2).
Caroline Ball

1. Overview of Legislation, Guidance and Key Research

Abstract
Children may become ‘looked after’:
  • as part of a child in need plan for their care, with the consent of, or no objections from, those with parental responsibility; or
  • in any circumstances where there is no one to look after a child in need;
  • when made the subject of a care order or interim care order in care proceedings and placed away from home; or
  • for a shorter time as a result of an emergency by means of a child protection order, police protection or detention; or
  • when in police custody, on remand or subject to a court order with a residence requirement in criminal proceedings.
Caroline Ball

2. Accommodation Under Section 20

Abstract
A child may become looked after:
  • when provided with accommodation through a voluntary arrangement under s. 20 Children Act 1989;
  • when placed or authorized to be placed for adoption by a local authority (s. 18(3) Adoption and Children Act 2002);
  • when subject to a care order or interim care order (ss 31 and 38 Children Act 1989);
  • for a short period of time under an emergency protection order (s. 44 Children Act 1989) or in police protection (s. 46); and
  • when subject to police custody, remand, or court orders with residence requirements in criminal proceedings:
Caroline Ball

3. Other Routes to ‘Looked After’ Status

Abstract
Since implementation of the Children Act 1989 in 1991, only children made the subject of care orders in care proceedings are properly described as being ‘in care’. A care order can only be made by a family court, on the application of a local authority or the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) as the only ‘authorised person’ (s. 31(1)), and may not be made on a child who is 17, or 16 if married. Care orders can only be made on the grounds that the court is satisfied:
Caroline Ball

4. Local Authorities’ Responsibilities Towards Looked after Children

Abstract
The wishes and feelings of and continuing role for the family in the child’s life are addressed in Chapter 5, and the range of possible placements is covered in Chapter 6. It cannot be over-emphasized that this division is to a considerable extent an artificial one, designed to help the reader to make sense of the separate elements. In practice, the issues addressed in these three chapters are likely to arise simultaneously, assuming different priorities according to the circumstances of the individual case.
Caroline Ball

5. The Voice of the Looked After Child and the Role of the Family

Abstract
This chapter examines the legal underpinning of the relationship between the wishes and feelings of the child and the family and the exercise of the local authority’s powers and duties in regard to looked after children.
Caroline Ball

6. The Accommodation of Looked after Children

Abstract
When a local authority has a duty to accommodate a child, or has decided to do so with the agreement of persons with parental responsibility in order to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare, the legal framework of care planning and the decisions that have to be made regarding the choice of placement are set out in ss 22 and 22A–22F Children Act 1989 and the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (the 2010 Regulations). The regulations and statutory guidance on good practice interpretation of the legislation are published in vol. 2 of The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations (HM Government, 2010). As indicated earlier, both the regulations and guidance are due for revision in 2014.
Caroline Ball

7. Reviews

Abstract
Reviews are a key component in the virtuous cycle of assessment, planning, intervention and review which should enable corporate parents to improve the outcomes for looked after children.
Caroline Ball

8. Alternative Legal Arrangements

Abstract
The Children Act 1989 introduced a greater flexibility into the legal arrangements that can be made for children unable to live with their own families, either on a temporary or permanent basis. Under earlier legislation, the sharp divide between orders made in private and public law proceedings prevented courts in the latter from reaching sensible legal solutions, not involving public care, for children needing a permanent placement outside their birth family (see, for instance, Ball, 1990). On implementation of the Act, the range of orders available to resolve differences about the upbringing of their children between parents following divorce was increased, and some of these orders also became available to courts in care proceedings and to provide statutory remedies instead of resort to the wardship jurisdiction of the High Court. This flexibility was increased further when the new legal concept of special guardianship was enacted as an amendment to the 1989 Act by the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
Caroline Ball

9. Looked after Children’s Transition to Adulthood

Abstract
Informed by research, since the 1980s the thrust of policy and legislation has been increasingly to recognize the vulnerability of young care leavers and to seek to regulate, as far as is possible, for a successful transition to adulthood. The recent social context being the decline in the youth labour market, the growth of education and training, the shortage of affordable housing for young people and a welfare benefits system which discourages young people from leaving home. As a result ‘[pathways to adulthood for most young people have become more differentiated and challenging over recent decades’ (Wade and Dixon, 2006:199).
Caroline Ball
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