Led by Just for Kids Law, the Children's Rights Alliance for England, and Article 39, 45 organisations and individuals have signed up to a joint letter calling on the Secretary of State for Education to amend the Department for Education's new coronavirus guidance for local authorities on children’s social care, published 3rd April, which gives inaccurate information about the legal protections and help available during the pandemic.
The letter urges the Department to amend its guidance as a matter of urgency, in order to clarify that local authorities must continue to fulfil their existing statutory duties to all vulnerable children and young people and their families, even during this crisis, and to extend the advice on social workers wearing PPE. The coalition asks the Secretary of State to commit to consulting those who will be directly affected by any such changes – children, young people and families who rely on children’s social care services.
The letter reads:
'We of course recognise the unprecedented challenges which local authorities are facing as a consequence of COVID-19, and welcome the announcement of £1.6 billion for local authorities to meet the extra demand and costs arising from the crisis, including costs in children’s social care, as well as the £750 million which is being made available to frontline charities. We appreciate that even this vital funding cannot take away the extreme pressures and risks which local authority and voluntary sector staff are facing at this incredibly difficult time. However, we are alarmed that this new guidance suggests that local authority statutory duties can be dispensed with, when there have been no changes to legislation to allow this. In doing so, the guidance risks unlawfully removing vital, hard-won statutory safeguards.'
You can read Children & Young People Now's coverage of the letter here.