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Failures of Implementing the Children and Families Act 2014

Failures of Implementing the Children and Families Act 2014

Failures of Implementing the Children and Families Act 2014

In a new report, the stark and the unacceptable failures of implementing  the Children and Families Act 2014 adequately have been identified.

“At the time of receiving Royal Assent, the Children and Families Act 2014 was described as a “landmark” piece of legislation.”

However the failings in data sharing and monitoring the performance of the Family Justice System, have left vulnerable Children and Young People let down by a system that was implemented to protect and improve their lives. Now coupled with the concerns with the increasing delays in Family Law Cases, this has led to the Children and Families Act 2014  Committee in the House of Lords, making recommendations.

  • Addressing the unacceptable ethnic and racial disparities in the adoption system by establishing an outcome focussed task force, accountable to the Secretary of State.
  • Improving post-placement support for adopters and kinship carers including the expansion of the Adoption Support Fund, allowing it to be used for more than therapy and ensuring it is also focused on early intervention.
  • Developing a safe and modern digital contact system for post adoption contact. The Committee urge the Government to support adoption agencies in developing and rolling-out a safe and appropriate national digital system for contact as a priority.
  • Addressing the ever-growing delays in public family law cases, which began long before the pandemic. This requires improved data gathering and sharing, and top-level leadership of an often-disparate system by Government through the Family Justice Board. The Committee urge the Government to publish an ambitious target for the timeliness of public children cases, along with an associated action plan laying out how it aims to achieve this reduction and how it will measure progress.
  • Producing an impartial advice website for separating couples, providing clear information on the family justice system and to reconsider proposals to make mediation obligatory, by replacing Mediation Information & Assessment Meetings and the mediation voucher schemes with a universal voucher scheme for a general advice appointment.
  • Reviewing the current approach to empowering the voice of the child in family law proceedings including recommending the Family Justice Council reviews the guidance setting out the approach to judges meeting with children.
  • Creating an ambition for a move towards a new dedicated 12-week paternity leave allowance and making flexible working a day one right to request and encouraging businesses to advertise jobs flexibly from the outset.
  • Building robust systems for monitoring and assessing the implementation of legislation, including data collection and sharing and requiring the Government to publish a post-legislative scrutiny plan once an Act receives Royal Assent setting out how the success of an Act will be measured.

The report concludes

It is clear both that more resource and more efficient use of resources are needed and without this the risks will have far reaching impact on the lives of children and families.

It is always important to resolve matters. However, some couples find themselves in intractable positions, which requires Court intervention to enable them to settle. Speaking to and seeking the right legal advice from a family lawyer is often fundamental in supporting an agreement regarding defined arrangements for the children.

Speak to our Family Law experts

Should you need further advice, please speak to our Family Law experts on 03456 381 381 or alternatively e-mail reena.vadera@ibblaw.co.uk.