Cafcass, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and ADSS Cymru have published guidance aimed at clarifying the expectations on local authorities for children looked after under s. 20 of the Children Act 1989.
The new guidance covers key areas such as best practice with newborn babies, positive use of s. 20, duties and responsibilities of a local authority to its child on s. 20 in England.
The move follows recent judicial criticism – including in Re N  EWCA Civ 1112 – and sector concerns about use of the section. The three organisations stressed that being looked after under s. 20 of the Children Act 1989 “remains a viable option for many children despite the recent concern, expressed by the judiciary and others in the sector, at cases where children have been left to ‘drift’ without decent care plans in place, with those children suffering harm or detriment as a result”. The guidance, also confirms that local authorities should review all open s. 20 cases “to ensure that s.20 status remains the appropriate current legal option and framework for the child”.