Your guide to the Children and Families Act
The introduction of the Children and Families Act last month was the culmination of nearly two years of policy development, political wrangling and tireless campaigning.
From the launch of the bill in February 2013, the government was clear that the bulk of the measures would aim to tackle deficiencies in the care and education of some of the most vulnerable groups of children and young people.
Reforms to adoption procedures, special educational needs and the care system underpin many of the provisions.
However, while the scope of the bill remained largely the same over its 13-month passage through the parliamentary process, a number of headline-grabbing initiatives made it into the act that were not originally envisaged. The inclusion of free school meals for all infant-aged pupils was a major policy success for the Liberal Democrats, while the banning of smoking in cars gained cross-party support.
Meanwhile, calls from children’s charities for the bill to provide better support for young carers and to allow fostered children to stay with carers up to the age of 21 were listened to by the government.
Despite these developments, the act still has its critics – some feel its narrow focus represents a missed opportunity; others are worried it places additional unfunded responsibilities on councils.
With guidance still to come on how the act’s provisions will be implemented in practice, CYP Now examines what the act will mean for professionals and services, and assesses what the main unresolved issues are.
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