Memorandum submitted by the London Borough
1. SECTION 1
The authority remains concerned
about the introduction of independent social work practices. Other
possible solutions to the problem of recruitment and retention
of social workers, as well as ensuring that social workers can
spend sufficient time with children, remain unexplored.
There are issues of accountability
that have not been addressed.
There is a risk that such practices
will add to bureaucracy rather than reduce it.
There is no evidence that social
care practices will solve the key issue of recruitment and retention
of social workers.
2. SECTION 2
The proposed separation of the
functions of the child's social work practice and the adoption
agency will add to the difficulties in co-ordination and planning.
3. SECTION 7
We note the Children and
Young Persons Policy Bill Paper: Friends and Family Care,
which is associated with the Bill. We welcome efforts to support
and clarify arrangements for friends and family care. However,
we note the "current estimate is that there are approximately
200,000 grandparents raising grandchildren." It is noted
in the Paper that there are no definitive figures for the numbers
of friends and family carers in this country. The proposals for
offering support, including financial support, are insufficiently
clear. Proposals for amendments to Section 17 of the Children
Act 1989 allowing ongoing financial support potentially expose
local authorities to enormous cost and resource implications.
If such children are to be Children in Need as defined by Section
17, then they will require ongoing social work support and review.
4. SECTION 8
We support the proposal that
children should be placed within their local area and community.
It is not helpful to define this in terms of the local authority
area. Many of this authority's children are placed very close
to their home but outside the boundary of the authority. This
is an arbitrary manner of defining local area and it is possible
that this will produce negative impacts.
5. SECTION 9
Please see comments regarding
Section 8. Many children attend schools that are not within their
own local authority. Therefore Sections 8 and 9 may be in direct
contradiction. The best placement to access a local school may
be in a neighbouring authority, depending on local transport links.
6. SECTION 29
We would support measures for
foster carers to have recourse to some method of scrutiny of decisions.
The model proposed mirrors that for adoption as established by
the Adoption and Children Act 2002. In our view, this is not the
most helpful model. Fostering is more complex. Foster carers may
apply to different schemes that may require specific skills. There
are differing approvals, for example with regard to numbers of
children or appropriate age. The model does not lend itself to
speedy resolution, even with the small number of adoption referrals.
The numbers of fostering referrals are likely to be far higher.
This is likely to lead to considerable cost. Other models should
7. We note with disappointment that there
are no specific provisions in the Act regarding the health of
looked-after children. We would support the amendment to the Bill
proposed by Baroness Massey of Darwen, which is supported by the
NSPCC, British Association for Adoption and Fostering, National
Children's Bureau and the Who Cares? Trust. This will make the
requirements of PCTs towards this vulnerable group of children