Adoption and Children in Care Update

children update

Welcome to the Children’s Partnership Adoption and Children in Care Update 19 September 2014

This twice-quarterly update for the children’s VSCE sector is brought to you by the National Children’s Bureau and Barnardo’s as part of the Children’s Partnership. It will inform you of the latest policy news on children in care and adoption, signpost to relevant resources produced as part of the Children’s Partnership and funded by the Department for Education.

 

Consultation on residential care quality standards

 

The Department for Education has today launched a consultation on the next phase of major changes to the regulation of children’s homes. Specifically, the Department are consulting on:

 

  • The introduction of Quality Standards, which set out in regulations the outcomes that children must be supported to achieve while living in children’s homes. Each standard has an aspirational, child-focused outcome statement, followed by a clear set of underpinning, measurable requirements that homes must meet to achieve the standard;
  • Replacement of the current National Minimum Standards with a Guide to the regulations that will explain and supplement the requirements stated in the regulations; and
  • Streamlining and modernisation of the current regulations on management and administrative processes (e.g. allowing the use of electronic records).

 

These changes aim to:

 

  • Challenge children’s homes to provide high quality care, have high aspirations and achieve positive outcomes for the extremely vulnerable group of children that they care for
  • Make outcomes for children the primary focus for both the children’s home and the regulator (Ofsted)
  • Provide a more coherent regulatory framework of benefit to children, providers and the regulator
  • Reduce unnecessary bureaucracy for providers.

 

The consultation closes on 14 November 2014.

 

Are you interested in sharing your views about the staying put legislation?

 

The Children’s Partnership is carrying out an online survey looking at the initial impact and implementation of the staying put legislation.

We are interested in hearing from:

 

  • Voluntary and community organisations who have an understanding of the impact of the legislation
  • Foster carers
  • Staying put carers
  • Fostering services
  • Independent reviewing officers
  • Leaving care managers.

 

Click here to complete the survey

 

The questionnaire is confidential and findings will be reported anonymously to the Department for Education in January 2015.

 

We are keen to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to take part in this important research- please feel free to forward this information onto any relevant networks, contacts or colleagues.

 

Thank you for taking the time to share your views on the subject. If you have any queries about the survey, please contact Jo Lea at jlea@ncb.org.uk or 020 7843 6336.

 

New duties on education come into effect

 

This September is the start of the first full academic year of new duties to support looked after children and children with SEN and disabilities. A new duty introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014 has made the appointment of virtual school heads mandatory and revised statutory guidance (see July edition) sets out steps that local authorities should take to improve educational outcomes for looked after children. This is supported by the new, higher rate of pupil premium funding, introduced in April 2014, for those who are looked after.

The pupil premium for looked after children is managed by the virtual school head in the authority that looks after them.  There is an expectation that pupil premium funding will be passed on to the child’s school and that virtual school heads will work in partnership with the child’s education setting to maximise the impact of pupil premium by supporting the learning priorities outlined in the child’s personal education plan. Children adopted from care and those who leave care under a Special Guardianship Order or Residence (now called Child Arrangements) Order are also eligible to attract pupil premium funding. Schools can access this by asking the child’s parent or guardian to self-declare their child’s status for the purposes of completing the school census return.

 

The new SEND system, as set out by part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014 also came into force on 1 September. The new SEND Code of Practice (statutory guidance) makes clear the importance of considering the needs of looked after children who have SEN and disabilities, including:

 

  • The information that local authorities and schools must publish about the support available for children with SEN and disabilities (the local offer and SEN information report, respectively)  will include arrangements for children who are looked after by the local authority and have SEN
  • The role of the SENCO may include liaising with the relevant Designated Teacher where a looked after pupil has SEN
  • Children’s social care teams should make sure that the arrangements for assessing and meeting looked after children and care leavers’ needs across education, health and social care are co-ordinated effectively within the process of care and pathway planning
  • The need to avoid any delays for looked after children and carry out the EHC needs assessment in the shortest possible timescale.
  • The Council for Disabled Children is the Department for Education’s SEND Strategic Reform Partner and has developed a range of resources on the new system. The Autumn edition of the CDC Digest is a special edition focusing entirely on the SEND reforms and packed full of links to resources, fact sheets, best practice and events.

 

All children adopted from care now eligible for extra support with their education through extension of pupil premium

 

Government has made £20 million of additional pupil premium funding available to support all children who have been adopted from care with their education. Previously, only children adopted from care since 30 December 2005 were eligible. For each pupil adopted from care, the pupil’s school is eligible for £1,900 worth of funding to help with their educational needs.

Children adopted from care do not perform as well as their classmates at school. In 2013, less than half of adopted children reached the expected levels of reading, writing and maths at key stage 2, compared with 75% of non-adopted children.

 

Government pilot opening National Adoption Register to approved adopters

 

29 councils and voluntary adoption agencies are being permitted to allow people approved to adopt to search the national Adoption Register from this September. The pilot will allow approved adopters to learn more about the children who are waiting for a loving, stable home. They will be able to find out about their hobbies, likes and dislikes, and hear them speak and laugh in videos and pictures.

Opening up the register is designed to ensure that children are placed more quickly with families who can give them the stability and security they deserve. Strict safeguards will be put in place to ensure the safety and privacy of children and approved adopters.

 

Young person’s guide to family justice changes

 

The Department for Education and Ministry of Justice have published a guide to recent changes to the family justice system. The guide was produced by the Children’s Partnership, working with the former children’s rights director, Roger Morgan. It explains all the changes that have been made in response to the Family Justice Review in young person friendly language.

 

Feedback sought on permanence data pack

 

The Department for Education published the  Improving permanence for looked-after children data pack in September 2013 to provide local authorities and other organisations with an interest in national data about stability for looked-after children and those returning home from care.

The purpose of the data pack was to provide greater detail about placements for looked-after children and those who return home, illustrate key factors that contribute to placements stability for looked-after children and those children returning home from care, and inform the strategic and operational decisions taken by Directors of Children’s Services and Lead Members, commissioners, managers, social workers and Independent Reviewing Officers.

The Department is making available a short and anonymous online survey to consider the impact of the data pack on practice. The survey should only take a few minutes to complete and will be available until the end of today 19 September 2014.

The survey is available here

 

 

Consultation on children’s social work knowledge and skills statement

 

One of the recommendations of Sir Martin Narey’s independent review of the education of children’s social workers was the creation of a single, concise document setting out what a newly qualified social worker needs to know and be able to do. The Department for Education is seeking views on this draft statement of knowledge and skills:

 

  • As a statement of what a child and family social worker needs to know at the end of a first year in practice; and
  • As a statement to inform what is taught on qualifying programmes to properly equip those studying to become effective child and family social workers.

The consultation closes on 9 October.

 

Revised Adoption Minimum Standards

Revised adoption minimum standards have been published by the Department for Education, reflecting changes to the adoption process introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014. This includes changing the outcome on timing and of matching and placing children to consider both the time from entry to care to placement with the adoptive family and, separately, the time between a local authority receiving court authority to place a child and the local authority deciding on a match with an adoptive family (the scorecard indicators).

 

New adoption leave rules approved by Parliament

 

The new regulations will, from April 2015, remove the current requirement for a qualifying period of service of 26 weeks before an employee is entitled to adoption leave. From this October, they will also introduce protections for employees who are treated or dismissed unfairly in relation to time off for adoption appointments.

 

New Ofsted chair appointed

 

David Hoare had been appointed as the new Chair of Ofsted. He has been Chairman of the Teenage Cancer Trust for the last 4 years, and has worked as an academies ambassador for the Department for Education and trustee of the AET academy chain (which he is stepping down from).  He has worked as chairman or chief executive of a number of large companies including independent mail and courier company the DX group, Virgin Express and V Ships.

 

 

 

The Adoption and Children in Care Update is brought to you by the National Children’s Bureau and Barnardo’s as part of the Children’s Partnership. To subscribe or unsubscribe to the Update please email acic@ncb.org.uk with subscribe or unsubscribe in the subject line.

 

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