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Summer Bulletin – Part 2: Children
Cafcass Figures for Applications Received
Cafcass has released figures for both Public Law and Private Law cases for May 2016. In Private Law cases an increase of 17% on May 2015 levels. The figures for Public Law cases show an increase of 23% on May 2015 levels.
Children in Care missing out on Advocacy services
The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has published a report highlighting the importance of an independent advocate to make sure the views and wishes of children in care without family to offer help and guidance are taken into account. The report recommends that:
- National standards and guidance in this area are reviewed.
- Advocacy is included in Ofsted’s framework of inspection.
- Local Authorities and mental health providers should ensure all children and young people in care are made aware of advocacy services.
Local Authority ordered to pay damages of £17,500
Kent County Council have been found to have breached Articles 6 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to a girl accommodated under s20 of the Children Act 1989.
Section 20 accommodation means that the parents of a child consent to the child being accommodated by a local authority. This consent can be withdrawn at any stage.
The child in question was accommodated from 14 December 2011 and care proceedings were later issued in November 2015.
The parents applied under the Human Rights Act for declarations that the Council breached the child’s article 6 and 8 rights and for damages.
The Court held that the Council had acted in breach of the child’s rights and awarded damages of £17,500. Additionally, the court made an order for the Council to meet payment of the child’s legal costs limited to the Human Rights Act application.
Cafcass are now able in certain circumstances to facilitate DNA tests directed by the courts under section 20 Family Law Reform Act 1969. The cost of this DNA testing will not be met by the parties but rather by Cafcass. The service is limited to:
- Applications for a Child Arrangements Order, previously known as Residence and Contact; and
- When the application cannot be determined unless paternity is resolved first;
- The parents/carers of the child are prepared to cooperate.