Children and Families Bill

Memorandum submitted by The Board of Deputies of British Jews (CF 93)

SUMMARY

The Board of Deputies of British Jews is the representative organisation for the British Jewish community, one of whose principal objectives is to protect and defend the rights of the Jewish community to carry out their religious customs and practices. In formulating this briefing the Board of Deputies and their Family Law Group have consulted within the community, across the religious spectrum, external key stakeholder organisations involved in the family justice system and throughout the UK.

This document details the Board of Deputies of British Jews’ response to The Children and Families Bill, focusing on Part I (Adoption and Children Looked After by Local Authorities), section 2, Repeal of requirement to give due consideration to ethnicity: England. The Board is concerned that the religious interests of the child and the parents should both be considered.

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

In line with our concern that the religion of all parties in the adoption process ought to be considered, we suggest the following amendments, which we understand are also supported by The Law Society and the Association of Lawyers for Children (ALC), with whom we have liaised:

Clause 1

Be amended to insert in Clause 1 (3) amending Subsection 9 and deleting the proposed sub paragraph (b) and inserting

"(a) they must consider alongside other placement alternatives defined in sub- paragraph (6) placing C with a local authority foster parent who has been approved as a prospective adopter, and "

(b) subparagraph ( 9) shall not prevent such placement outside the local authority area, if such placement is in the child’s best interests.

We believe that this is probably what was intended, so that a concurrent planning placement is considered alongside all other alternatives for the placement of the child, but the current draft suggest a priority should be given to those placements, and as this section requires a Local Authority to consider this at an early stage of proceedings, it is important that all options for the child are given equal weight and consideration.

Clause 2

We believe this clause should be deleted, and the mischief it aims to address dealt with by an amendment to the Section 1 ( 3) Welfare Checklist in Section Children Act 1989 by inserting

1 (3) (d) his age, sex, background, religious persuasion, racial origin, cultural and linguistic origin, and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant:

..

The same insertion should be made in Section 1 (4) (d) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002

This ensures that these issues are considered for the child, alongside other factors. No one having greater weight than the other and always being a matter of balance, but to deny the child consideration of these important aspects of identity and sense of self is not in the child’s interests. Young people who grow into adulthood, having been in care or adopted need to be able to make sense of the decisions made for them when they were young and know that all important factors were taken into account.

April 2013

Prepared 24th April 2013