Protecting children-A Good Practice Guide. Child Protection Framework. The Children's Act 1989 is a comprehensive piece of legislation,

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Protecting children-

A Good Practice Guide.

  • Child Protection Framework.

The Children’s Act 1989 is a comprehensive piece of legislation, which brings together for the first time all private and pupil law proceedings relating to children. In addition to the Act there are Rules of Court, Regulations and numerous Guidance Documents issued by the Department of Health, which expand upon provisions contained in the Children Act.

The Children Act aims to achieve a balance between the need to protect children from harm and the need to protect children and families from unwarranted intervention. It encourages arrangements for services to children to be agreed between the parents and service providers whenever possible. The Act embodies the belief that children are best looked after within the family and without resort to legal proceedings unless this is not consistent with their welfare and safety.

Section 17 sets out the duty of every Local Authority to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are “in need” and so far as is consistent with that duty, to promote the upbringing of such children by their families, by providing a range of services appropriate to those children’s needs.    

“Under the terms of section 17 of the Act, every child under the age of 18 is entitled to a full assessment of his/her needs and, if approached, social services have a legal duty to carry out this assessment and can be challenged if they fail to respond to any request for a section 17 child-in-need assessment”. .’

The protection of Children Act 1999 requires regulated organisations to refer the names of individuals considered unsuitable to work with children, to a department of Health list, along with list 99 maintained by the Department for Education and Employment.

"This new Act enhances significantly the level of protection for children...... The Act says that childcare organisations (as defined in the Act) who are planning on employing someone in a child-care position (as defined) must make sure that individuals are checked through the 'one-stop-shop' against the Protection of Children Act List and the relevant part of List 99 and must not employ anyone who is included on either list” John Hutton Minister of State’ ‘

Under the Human Rights Act (1998) the local authority has a general duty to promote the welfare of children in need in their area and to enable children to be brought up by their families by providing a range of support services to the child and her family. This includes such services as advice, counselling, placement in family centres, day care provision, provision of holidays and recreational activities, and in exceptional circumstances, cash help. The concept of a ‘child in need’ is widely defined and there is some considerable variation between one local authority and the next in terms of the practical assistance, which is offered to families. The local authority can also ask for assistance from other departments and agencies, which must be given unless this would prejudice the normal provision of their services.

“If a party in family proceedings wishes to rely on a provision of the Human Rights Act they must specify in their application, answer, petition or other originating document, precise details of the Convention rights they allege have been infringed.”  ‘’

A local authority is not allowed to provide accommodation or assistance in relation to the essential living needs of a child or her family where the family are asylum seekers. This restriction does not apply to unaccompanied minors under the age of 17.

“A local authority has the duty to provide accommodation to any child where the parents are unable to provide it for any reason. There is no distinction drawn between a child accommodated by the local authority to give brief period of respite to parents or a child accommodated for longer periods.” ).”  Protecting Children From Abuse and Neglect in Primary Care, pg 87’

Where a local authority has reasonable cause to suspect that a child in its areas is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm it has a statutory duty to make enquiries. The purpose of such an enquiry is to decide what action if any is necessary to safeguard the child’s welfare. It is usual to make an initial assessment, which involves inter agency enquiries regarding the child’s education, health, general welfare and any particular matters which may have acted as a catalyst for the child coming to the attention of the local authority in the first place. If necessary, a child protection conference can be convened to co-ordinate multidisciplinary responses to any perceived needs the child may have, which require local authority input. At this point the decision is made as to whether or not the child should be put on the child protection register and what action if any is necessary. Most children on the child protection register remain living with their parents and it is viewed largely as a precautionary measure. However, in some cases the local authority may decide after conducting a core assessment that the child should be removed from parents or carers and that care proceedings need to be initiated.

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“In child protection services the right to life and the right to respect for private and family life will need to be balanced by circumstances when interference with these rights is justified” ‘’ 

It is a matter for concern that to a large degree the views and wishes of children themselves can be overlooked at this stage of the process. Children do not as a rule attend child protection conferences as their interests are usually represented by a children’s guardian, appointed by CAFCASS to represent the child in care proceedings. However, older children who can demonstrate sufficient maturity and understanding ...

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