All change for children law

All change for children law

At the time of writing the Children and Families Bill (the Bill) has reached the Committee Stage in the House of Lords. The Bill proposes a number of important changes to the Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989) and the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (ACA 2002) that will have a significant impact on parents in both a public law and private law context. This blog post focuses on changes that will be of particular interest to family lawyers.

Public law

Clause 1 – placement of looked after children with prospective adopters or 'fostering for adoption'

This clause provides for ChA 1989 to be amended so that where a local authority considers adoption as an option for a child they must consider placing the child with a local authority foster parent who has been approved as a prospective adopter.  The government has also indicated in its impact assessment that to complement this change it  intends to introduce regulations to make it easier for local authorities to approve prospective adopters as temporary foster carers for a named child.

Clause 1 provides that where a local authority is considering adoption as an option for a child it does not need to comply with ChA 1989, ss 22(C)(7)–(9) (which set out the matters a local authority must consider when deciding on an appropriate placement for a child). Therefore, a local authority would not, when considering adoption as an option have to give preference to a placement:

  • with a relative who is also a foster carer
  • which is near the child’s home
  • which does not disrupt their education or training
  • which enables the child to live with a sibling
  • which, if the child is disabled, is suitable for the child’s needs; and
  • which is in the local authority’s area

Furthermore, the local authority will be authorised to place a child on the Adoption and Children Act Register, rather than having to wait for that child to be placed for adoption (clause 6).

This is, in my view, the most significant and potentially

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