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Councils to act as ‘corporate parent’ for children in care

Councils’ responsibilities for children in care will be expanded under new measures announced in today’s Queen’s Speech.

The Children and Social Work Bill will provide standards for how local authorities should act as a ‘corporate parent’ for children in care as they transition into adulthood, including a requirement to inform care leavers about the services they are entitled to and provide them with a personal adviser up to the age of 25.

It will also build on previous government work to promote adoption by ensuring councils and courts prioritise a child’s need for stability when making decisions about their future, and promote educational achievement for adopted children.

The Bill will also establish a statutory regulator for social workers, ensure lessons are learned from serious child safeguarding cases and allow councils to pilot new approaches to child safeguarding.

Cllr Roy Perry, chair of the children and young people board at the LGA, said: “The government's determination to drive longer term decision making through the court system is encouraging, as the recent decline in the number of children adopted from care will only be tackled through close working between social workers and the judiciary.

"However, we must take care that the ongoing focus on adoption does not distract from the importance of other types of long and short-term care for vulnerable children.”

He agreed that there was “room for improvement” in supporting care leavers, but said that this must be fully funded.

He added that a regulator for social workers would help promote public confidence in the profession, but that care must be taken to ensure it did not become “overly bureaucratic”.

The Queen’s Speech also contained a new Education for All Bill, which seeks to promote academies after the government had to back down from plans to force all schools to become academies.

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