NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) has today written to the government calling for the urgent withdrawal of the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, which came into force on 24th April. The new legislation risks many of the safeguards that exist to protect care-experienced children and young people from harm.
Changes in the new legislation include:
• An independent six-month review for each child in care during COVID-19 is no longer mandatory.
• Social workers no longer have to check in with children in care every six weeks, but instead should do so ‘as soon as reasonably practicable.’
• The requirement for an adoption or fostering panel has been removed.
• Decisions of whether foster placements are suitable are now based on the assessment of providers, many of whom are private organisations with a profit-motive for placing children with carers.
These changes come at the same time that NYAS has made more than triple the number of safeguarding referrals during COVID-19, compared with the same period last year. In this context, no responsible parent would reduce the protections for their children or stop checking on their welfare. It should be no different for corporate parents.
There is no evidence that the voices of care-experienced children and young people have been sought or heard. The principle that ‘every child has the right to express their view, feelings and wishes in matters affecting them’ comes from Article 12 of the UNCRC, a treaty that the UK Government ratified almost thirty years ago. That right applies ‘at all times’ and is even more vital in times of crisis.
NYAS is calling on the government to urgently withdraw the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.
NYAS has also written to the Education Committee, Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years, and Children’s Commissioner for England, asking if they will join the campaign for this legislation to be withdrawn.
Rita Waters, Chief Executive, said “The government wrote to us a day before this legislation was published, offering their assurance that protecting vulnerable children is a top priority during COVID-19. These changes dismantle many of the protections that exist for care-experienced children and young people during lockdown. We call upon the government to turn words into action, to listen to what the children and young people we work with are saying, and to urgently withdraw this unnecessary and potentially dangerous legislation.”
Read our full letter to the Minister for Children and Families here.