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Children: Social Services

Question for Department for Education

UIN 40635, tabled on 27 April 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, which organisations were consulted on changes to regulations in children’s social care before the publication of the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020; and over what period were those organisations consulted.

Answered on

4 May 2020

The safety of vulnerable children remains a high priority, and we have taken a number of steps to ensure this is prioritised during the COVID-19 outbreak, including ensuring that vulnerable children can continue to attend education and childcare settings that are closed to the majority of children.

The vast majority of statutory duties on children’s social care remain unchanged. However, in light of the current pressures COVID-19 is bringing on social care services, and the risk of such pressures increasing, we have reviewed our regulations to allow some temporary and limited flexibility, to be used where absolutely necessary, to enable children's services to continue to support vulnerable children in the most effective and safest way during the outbreak. The regulatory changes will be kept under continuous review and will expire on 25 September 2020 unless extended.

The department consulted a wide range of stakeholders and local authority practitioners about what changes to children’s social care regulations would be appropriate and has carried out an internal review of all existing regulations over the last couple of months since the start of the outbreak. The changes made anticipate the potential issues children’s social care may face during this period, as well as those currently being dealt with. Our starting point has been to make minimal changes to ensure the safe functioning of children’s social care during COVID-19. The additional flexibilities should only be used when absolutely necessary and in line with overarching safeguarding and welfare duties.

The department has produced COVID-19 guidance for local authorities on children’s social care which is currently being updated to include a plain English explanation of what each regulation change does. This guidance is due to be published very shortly and will be kept under review alongside the Regulations.

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