Government ‘reluctant’ to help children in care, MPs claim

family law

The Department for Education shows an “alarming reluctance” to become actively involved in promoting the welfare of children in care, MPs have claimed.

In a newly published report, the Commons Public Accounts Committee insists that the Department for Education’s (DoE) legislative responsibilities in relation to children in care and local authorities mean it is “clearly best placed to provide the leadership required in many cases.”

But rather than helping to secure “better services and outcomes for children in care” it “chooses to limit its role to passing legislation, publishing guidance and intervening after Ofsted has failed a local authority service”, the report declares.

The Department is failing to make full use of the information and expertise it had access to, the Committee declares. It calls on the government to actively promote good practice in relation to children in care and provide assistance to local authorities prior to inspections by Ofsted.

There has been little improvement in the overall welfare of vulnerable and ‘looked after’ children, the MPs claim.

But a spokesman for the DoE said the report had deliberately ignored substantial progress. He said:

“We have introduced tough new rules to stop children going missing, are intervening in councils across the country to ensure children are receiving the services they deserve, and we have undertaken a review of secure places for the victims of child sexual exploitation.”

Read the report here.

Photo by Alberto Garcia via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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1 comment

David Mortimer - March 13, 2015 at 6:57am

The problem with UK child protection policies is they are not evidence based. There is no specific legislation or regulations which require local authorities to collect & hold information on child abuse perpetrators or for them to use that information to formulate evidence based child protection policies.

—– Original Message —–
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2014 3:09 PM
Subject: Department for Education response: Case Reference 2014/0054542

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your further email, addressed to the Safeguarding and Vulnerable People Unit, about specific legislation or regulations which require local authorities to collect and hold information on child abuse perpetrators. On this occasion, I have been asked to reply.

I am afraid I can only reiterate my previous reply of 14 July. This stated that it is not for this department to comment on whether local authorities hold information regarding child abuse perpetrators or for them to use that information to formulate evidence based child protection policies. It is the role of the police, Disclosure and Barring Service and the criminal justice system to hold this information.

Once again, thank you for writing.

Yours sincerely

David Chapman
Ministerial and Public Communications Division

—– Original Message —–
Sent: Monday, July 14, 2014 9:55 AM
Subject: Department for Education response: Case Reference 2014/0045118

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your emails of 20 June, addressed to the Secretary of State for Education and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, about legislation and regulations which requires local authorities (LAs) to collect and hold information, regarding child abuse perpetrators. Your email was passed to this department as we are responsible for the policy on child protection. On this occasion I have been asked to reply to both emails.

Under section 83 of the Children Act 1989 and also as part of our obligations under the 1989 United Nations Conventions on the Rights of a Child, the government has an annual collection of data on the characteristics of children in need, in England. This data focuses on the needs of the child. Collecting and holding information regarding child abuse perpetrators is outside the remit of this data collection. It is the role of the police, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and the criminal justice system to hold this information.

As you may be aware, under section 11 of the Children Act 2004, LAs and their partner agencies have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. As part of that responsibility, the LA would rely on the police to share information at the relevant time. In exceptional circumstances, the police have powers under common law to disclose information about an individual where they consider this is necessary for the prevention or detection of crime, for example, where they consider that an individual poses a risk to the public and there is an urgent need to provide information to an employer.

We expect local areas to establish multi-agency working arrangements, which includes information sharing between, and within, organisations to ensure vulnerable children are safe from harm and abuse. This is set out clearly in the statutory guidance ‘Working together to safeguard children’ (2013).

Once again, thank you for writing, and I hope this information is helpful.

Yours sincerely

David Chapman
Ministerial and Public Communications Division

—– Original Message —–
Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2014 7:29 AM
Subject: Department for Education response: Case Reference 2014/0029934

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your further email of 7 April, addressed to the Secretary of State for Education, about the family justice system. I am sure you will appreciate that the Secretary of State receives a large amount of correspondence and is unable to answer each one personally. It is for this reason I have been asked to respond.

The family justice system has undergone enormous scrutiny in the past few years, with the clear aim of ensuring the welfare of the child is kept at the heart of the system. With the commencement of the Children and Families Act 2014, we will be implementing the provisions.

I am only able to reiterate the information already given to you in our previous replies, as there is nothing further to add on this subject. I have attached to this message the following responses:

14 April 2014 – 2014/0025407

18 March 2014 – 2014/0020830

14 March 2014 – 2014/0018670

26 February 2014 – 2014/0014312

Once again, thank you for writing.

Yours sincerely

Tariq Khan
Ministerial and Public Communications Division

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