NYAS is fully supportive of the continued efforts of fellow children’s rights charity, Article 39 to have key parts of the Department for Education’s children’s social care  ‘myth busting’ guide withdrawn.

We were one of 50 organisations to add our signature to a letter of collective concern regarding the ‘myth busting’ guide, which was published on the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme microsite. The letter, addressed to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, Minister Nadhim Zahawi expressed deep concern that several parts of the myth-busting guide give rise to the misinterpretation of the statutory framework for England’s care system. In accordance with legal advice, all of the letter signatories asked that the relevant sections be immediately withdrawn to avoid the risk of confusion and to prevent any harmful effects on vulnerable children and young people, and those caring for them.  The letter was intended to convey the importance of legal certainty being maintained when it comes to the care and protection of vulnerable children and young people looked after by local authorities.

One of the most significant concerns regarding the ‘myth-buster’ is that the guide suggests it is acceptable for local authorities to provide just one, single social worker for children and foster carers when a child is in a stable, long-term placement, whilst the statutory guidance indicates that there should be separate social workers provided, for safeguarding reasons. Like Article 39, NYAS believes that this risks the safeguarding function of seeing the child alone being undermined by the social worker being (correctly) viewed by the child as supervising and supporting the foster carers.

Minister Nadhim Zahawi has since responded by stating that the ‘myth-busting’ guide aimed to “help practitioners provide targeted support for children and families”, and “does not seek to change anything in the current statutory framework for children’s social care”.

Article 39 continues to pursue a positive outcome to the situation and has now written to the Secretary of State for Education, warning of its intent to seek a judicial review. Article 39 Director, Carolyne Willow says, “It is not good enough for the minister to say there have been no changes to the law and statutory guidance while at the same time leaving in circulation a document which indicates otherwise.”

At NYAS we will continue to campaign in partnership with peer organisations like Article 39 to have the misleading ‘Myth-Busting’ guide content withdrawn and to gain an assurance from government that any further guidance is published following proper consultation in future.  The risks to vulnerable young people if the issue is not resolved means that those with barriers to understanding their rights may be compromised.