What is it?
The Children Act 1989 allocated duties to local authorities, courts, parents and other agencies in the United Kingdom, to ensure children are safeguarded and their welfare is promoted. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_Act_1989 Background
This act covers children from birth up until the age of 18. It was introduced after a number of child abuse cases, in an attempt to simplify the law, in order for more people to be aware of the law as well as abide by it. The act is a balance between a child’s rights as well as a parents or caregivers rights, as it is the duty of the state to protect children that are at risk or ‘in need’.
5 main points
Paramountcy - The welfare of a child is the paramount (the most important) when a decision is being made in court about that child. Therefore any wishes from the parents can actually be overridden by the court if their wishes are not suitable or don’t regard the child’s welfare.
Although the parent’s wishes overridden when in court the child’s personal wishes are taken into account as well as their emotional, physical and educational needs of the child are and if their parents can cater for them needs. Not only this but also any past harm that has come to the child that may occur again in the future is taken into account along with their age, gender and background. After considering all of the factors the court would then make an order, but only if they were completely satisfied.
Example - A respite carer would need to talk to social workers and other authority figures if they believed that a family with a disabled child could care for that child, as a respite worker knows the mental and physical strain of caring for a child with a disability.
Partnership and permanency - This is when the local authority has the duty of informing all the people that are associated with that child’s welfare, for example parents, schools, foster parents or police etc. The Act prefers a child to be raised and cared for within their own family unit with both parents playing a vital role. However it is known that this cannot always be the case, therefore a child may be removed from their prime carer and placed into a long-term substitute family or hopefully rehabilitation.
Example - A social worker would have to make sure that all information (that is relevant) is shared to the people who need to know for example school nurses and teachers as well as any other social workers working on the case etc.
Parental responsibility - Parental responsibility is where the person mainly responsible for a child has the right to name their child, apply for a passport, be their main caregiver as well as choosing what religion that they will be brought up with, where they live and where they will be educated. However as the child grows older it will be taken into consideration and the child will have a bigger say in their own personal future and will start to make their own decisions.
Parental responsibility is automatically give to married parents as well as single mothers as soon as the child is born. As for an unmarried father he has parental responsibility if his name is on the birth certificate, later marries the mother, applies to the courts or made a legal guardian. However parental responsibility can be given to people that are not birth parents, i.e uncles or aunts or grandparents. This is usually because of a court order. However even if the child doesn’t live with the parent, the parent should still be informed on the child’s well being and actions, for example school work etc. The only time all parental responsibility is given up is when a child is adopted and their adoptive parents then get the responsibility.
Example - An example of this is that a foster would not necessarily have parental responsibility even though they were caring for that child. However if the foster parent went on to adopt the child they would then get all parental responsibility.