I don’t have a routine to keep me afloat. I feel like I’ve lost myself. I don’t sleep, eat; I have no friends to talk to. In education I was able to see some friends but it’s not the same.
Young Person, Age 16, Living with Foster Carers
On the 24th of April 2020, 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. NYAS were not informed of any changes despite our ongoing correspondence with the UK 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 Article 39’s judicial review action against the UK Government. A complete timeline of our campaigning activity can be seen here.
On 24th of November 2020, 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 Director 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.