4.1 Statutory Framework for Working with Children in Need and their Families
- 1. Children Act 1989
- 2. Children Act 2004
- 3. Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970
- 4. Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986
- 5. Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995
- 6. Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000
- 7. Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004
- 8. The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (DoH et al, 2000)
1. Children Act 1989
The Act gives a broad definition of children in need in Section 17 (10):
- (S)he is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him of services by a Local Authority under this part;
- Her/his health or development is likely to be significantly impaired or further impaired without the provision for him of such services;
- (S)he is disabled.
The Act states that the Local Authority has a duty to investigate where there is information that a child who lives or is found in its area has suffered or is likely to suffer Significant Harm (Section 47(1)). The Local Authority has powers available under the Act to apply for a range of legal orders to safeguard or promote the child's welfare.
2. Children Act 2004
As a result of amendments made by the Children Act 2004, any assessment of a child (including a young carer) must, amongst other things:
- Ascertain the child's wishes and feelings regarding the provision of such services as the Local Authority is proposing to make available; and
- Give due consideration (having regard to her/his age and understanding) to such wishes and feelings of the child as they have been able to ascertain.
3. Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970
This Act requires a Local Authority to provide services to disabled persons, including children to meet their assessed needs.
4. Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986
Section 8 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 requires the Local Authority to have regard to the ability of a carer to provide or continue to provide when deciding what services to provide to the disabled person.
5. Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995
This Act requires an assessment in respect of the needs of a disabled child to include an assessment of her or his carers' ability to provide care to the child, if the carer requests that it should do so.
The Act also provides for children who act as carers to persons being assessed under the National Health and Community Care Act 1990 for community care services to request an assessment of their ability to provide such care.
6. Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000
This Act established additional services that can be provided to the families of disabled children under the Children Act 1989 through use of direct payments and carer break vouchers.
7. Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004
Section 1 means that Local Authorities have a legal duty to inform carers of their right to a carers' assessment. This may be undertaken as part of the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families provided that information about the carer's own needs are captured along with any agreed outcomes to address the carer's needs.
Section 2 amends earlier carers' legislation by ensuring that assessments must include consideration of whether the carer works, or wishes to work, and is undertaking or wishes to undertake, education, training, or any leisure activity. The Local Authority has a duty to take account of the carers' assessment when deciding what, if any, services to provide under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.
The mandatory combined Policy Guidance for the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 and the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 states:
"Following the passage of the 2004 Act, the assessment should take account of the parent's ability to provide or continue to provide care for the child and consideration of whether they work, or undertake any education, training or leisure activity or wish to do so. This means that local authorities have a duty to ask carers about these activities and take their wishes into account when planning the care package."
8. The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (DoH et al, 2000)
The Assessment Framework provides a systematic multi-agency approach to analyse and record what is happening to a child within their family and the wider context of the community in which they live.
The assessment stages involve gathering and analysing information about the three domains of the Assessment Framework, these are the:
- Child's developmental needs;
- Parents' or caregivers' capacity to respond appropriately;
- Impact of the wider family and environmental factors on parenting capacity and the child.
Staff in all agencies should be competent in contributing to the assessment of a child using the Assessment Framework.