The Queen has announced the government’s legislation for the year ahead.

One piece of legislation that has caught our attention here at David Gray is the Children and Social Work Bill. This Bill is intended to improve the opportunities for those in care and improve social care standards across England.

Currently, the law relating to adoption promotes children being placed with distant relatives, as opposed to being adopted by new families. The Bill hopes to create a shift in this mind set, in order to support new families to adopt. As well as this the Bill aims to speed up the adoption process, in order to move more children more quickly from the care system to family life. Under the Bill, adoption would be prioritised over short-term foster care placements. The Bill will be designed to change the consideration that courts must take into account when making adoption decisions, ‘tipping the balance in favour of permanent adoption’. This is in response to recent falls in the number of children being adopted.

Secondly, the Bill aims to give young people leaving the care system more help, with a commitment by Local Authorities to act as better ‘corporate parents’ when looking after youngsters and helping them make the transition into independent living. Those leaving care will receive more support and will be assigned a mentor until the age of 25. It is hoped that this will prevent children who leave the care system from falling into crime, the sex trade and homelessness. As well as this Councils will be required to tell children leaving care, about the services they can receive help from. This will be known as the ‘Care Leavers Covenant’. Help will include advice surrounding housing, employment and healthcare. This again is hoped to prevent children from feeling lost.

Many feel that the proposed Bill is a step in the right direction; transforming the outcome of children in care and giving them the hope of a better future.

If you require legal advice in relation to care proceedings or adoption, David Gray Solicitors can provide you with advice and support. Please contact Louise Law to discuss in confidence how we can help you.