By Anam Hassan
The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 has spread to all aspects of life, leading to an amendment of 10 regulations in connection with children’s social care in England. Amongst them, The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, introduced on 24 April 2020, is notable as it seeks to relax some of the administrative obligations of authorities due to the current crisis, whilst still claiming to prioritise the needs of children. This new amendment has seen 100 changes to social care restrictions and will impact things such as virtual visits and medical reports for the adoption process amongst others.
Understandably, this regulation comes with some controversy, with a High Court judicial review of a document, on 27 and 28 July 2020, on three separate grounds. The claim is that the amendment is worrying as it has gone through with minimal consultation and gone against the primary duty of the minister to prioritise the well-being of the already vulnerable children.
For example, under these regulations, children can be sent to emergency foster carers, who may not be approved to take care of the number of children sent to them, for 24 weeks, which is too significant a timescale! This time-period was previously limited to 6 days, so the drastic increase is considered a poorly considered decision.
Ultimately, it is question of balance. Covid-19 has certainly called for changes to how we live and work, and the safety of child-care workers is of paramount importance. At the same time, we cannot compromise on the well-being of society’s most vulnerable. Therefore, it is important for the new measures enacted to take into consideration both, the safety of workers and the well-being of children – which arguably will take more time and consultation than this bill did. And we will know soon enough if the High Court agrees with this perception – so stay tuned for updates on the High Court’s verdict on the judicial