#ScrapSI445 success! The introduction of Statutory Instrument 445 (SI 445) was unlawful, says Court of Appeal.
On the 24th of April a new statutory instrument (SI 445) came into force in England – the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020. The statutory instrument removed or diluted 65 key protections for care-experienced children and young people. We were not informed of any changes despite our ongoing correspondence with Government or the work we do as a children’s rights charity.
The amendments meant that:
- An independent six-month review for each child in care during COVID-19 was no longer mandatory
- Social workers no longer had to check in with children in care every six weeks, but instead were told to do so ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’.
- The requirement for an adoption or fostering panel was removed.
- Decisions of whether foster placements were suitable were now based on the assessment of providers.
These changes affected the rights of over 70,000 children and young people in or entering care in England throughout the pandemic. NYAS and the #ScrapSI445 group sought to defend the rights of care-experienced children and young people during COVID-19. NYAS sent countless letters, published reports, responded to consultations, and supported Article39’s judicial review action against the Government. A complete timeline of our campaigning activity can be seen here.
On 24th of November, the Court of Appeal gave a landmark ruling which found that Statutory Instrument 445 (SI 445) had been introduced unlawfully. The victory upholds the rights of care-experienced children and young people in times of uncertainty.
Our Head of Policy, Ben Twomey reported on the Court of Appeal’s decision.
NYAS will never stop campaigning on behalf of care-experienced children and young people.
About our campaign
NYAS is calling on UK and Welsh Governments to act swiftly to protect the rights of young people during the COVID-19 response.
We are campaigning, with the support of over forty other charities and organisations in our sector, to ensure that the protection and support of care-experienced children and young people is a priority as national lockdowns continue across England and Wales.
We submitted open letters addressed to the UK and Welsh Government on the 27th of March. With signatories from across the sector, we called for:
- Access to technology for care-experienced children and young people
- Access to independent remote advocacy for children and young people living in accommodation not subject to checks, and those within a mental health setting.
- Access to technology for care-experienced children and young people, as well as those with parent contact arrangements.
- For care-experienced children and young people to have clear information about rights and entitlements championed by the Children’s Commissioner.
- The offer of an independent Return Interview to any care-experienced child or young person that goes mission, and the avoidance of criminalisation.
- Commitment to do everything possible in assessing the needs of care-experienced young people moving to adult care.
- For English Department for Education and Welsh Government to set out measures to safeguard children and young people living in unregulated accommodation during the crisis.
In Wales, NYAS Cymru is working closely with the Welsh Government, the Education Committee and Children’s Commissioner to protect children and young people during COVID-19. We have produced a detailed report into the effect of COVID-19 on care-experienced children and young people across Wales.
In England, we received a response to our open letter from the Minister for Children and Families on 22nd April, providing reassurance that protecting vulnerable children continues to be the UK Government’s top priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read the full letter here.