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Sector leaders challenge relaxation of Council statutory duties.

Sector leaders have criticised the government’s ‘unacceptable’ decision to relax local authorities’ statutory duties to vulnerable children during the current Covid19 crisis.

New rules which came into force on 24th April, see the amendment of 10 regulations on children’s social care, including care proceedings foster care and adoption arrangements in addition to changes for residential care.

Changes include relaxation of time frames around mandatory visits to looked-after children from their local authority and six-monthly independent reviews of a child’s care. In addition, they will speed up the adoption and emergency foster care placements processes as well as the removing care plans for kinship carers and a reduction of the expected standards of care in residential settings including children’s homes.

Whilst the changes are set to continue until 25 September there is concern that they could be made permanent after lockdown measures are lifted.

Katharine Sacks-Jones, chief executive of care leavers charity Become added: “While we understand the pressures local authorities are currently under, the vagueness of these changes risks the safety of those who need protecting the most.

We are also astonished that the government believes the impact of its amendments are limited given the greater risks vulnerable children and young people could now face.”