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Children Act 1989

Status:

This is the original version (as it was originally enacted).

Sections 17, 23 and 29.

SCHEDULE 2Local Authority Support for Children and Families

Part IProvision of Services for Families

Identification of children in need and provision of information

1(1)Every local authority shall take reasonable steps to identify the extent to which there are children in need within their area.

(2)Every local authority shall—

(a)publish information—

(i)about services provided by them under sections 17, 18, 20 and 24; and

(ii)where they consider it appropriate, about the provision by others (including, in particular, voluntary organisations) of services which the authority have power to provide under those sections; and

(b)take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that those who might benefit from the services receive the information relevant to them.

Maintenance of a register of disabled children

2(1)Every local authority shall open and maintain a register of disabled children within their area.

(2)The register may be kept by means of a computer.

Assessment of children’s needs

3Where it appears to a local authority that a child within their area is in need, the authority may assess his needs for the purposes of this Act at the same time as any assessment of his needs is made under—

(a)the [1970 c. 44.] Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970;

(b)the [1981 c. 60.] Education Act 1981;

(c)the [1986 c. 33.] Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986; or

(d)any other enactment.

Prevention of neglect and abuse

4(1)Every local authority shall take reasonable steps, through the provision of services under Part III of this Act, to prevent children within their area suffering ill-treatment or neglect.

(2)Where a local authority believe that a child who is at any time within their area—

(a)is likely to suffer harm; but

(b)lives or proposes to live in the area of another local authority

they shall inform that other local authority.

(3)When informing that other local authority they shall specify—

(a)the harm that they believe he is likely to suffer; and

(b)(if they can) where the child lives or proposes to live.

Provision of accommodation in order to protect child

5(1)Where—

(a)it appears to a local authority that a child who is living on particular premises is suffering, or is likely to suffer, ill treatment at the hands of another person who is living on those premises; and

(b)that other person proposes to move from the premises,

the authority may assist that other person to obtain alternative accommodation.

(2)Assistance given under this paragraph may be in cash.

(3)Subsections (7) to (9) of section 17 shall apply in relation to assistance given under this paragraph as they apply in relation to assistance given under that section.

Provision for disabled children

6Every local authority shall provide services designed—

(a)to minimise the effect on disabled children within their area of their disabilities; and

(b)to give such children the opportunity to lead lives which are as normal as possible.

Provision to reduce need for care proceedings etc.

7Every local authority shall take reasonable steps designed—

(a)to reduce the need to bring—

(i)proceedings for care or supervision orders with respect to children within their area;

(ii)criminal proceedings against such children;

(iii)any family or other proceedings with respect to such children which might lead to them being placed in the authority’s care; or

(iv)proceedings under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court with respect to children;

(b)to encourage children within their area not to commit criminal offences; and

(c)to avoid the need for children within their area to be placed in secure accommodation.

Provision for children living with their families

8Every local authority shall make such provision as they consider appropriate for the following services to be available with respect to children in need within their area while they are living with their families—

(a)advice, guidance and counselling;

(b)occupational, social, cultural or recreational activities;

(c)home help (which may include laundry facilities);

(d)facilities for, or assistance with, travelling to and from home for the purpose of taking advantage of any other service provided under this Act or of any similar service;

(e)assistance to enable the child concerned and his family to have a holiday.

Family centres

9(1)Every local authority shall provide such family centres as they consider appropriate in relation to children within their area.

(2)“Family centre” means a centre at which any of the persons mentioned in sub-paragraph (3) may—

(a)attend for occupational, social, cultural or recreational activities;

(b)attend for advice, guidance or counselling; or

(c)be provided with accommodation while he is receiving advice, guidance or counselling.

(3)The persons are—

(a)a child;

(b)his parents;

(c)any person who is not a parent of his but who has parental responsibility for him;

(d)any other person who is looking after him.

Maintenance of the family home

10Every local authority shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable, where any child within their area who is in need and whom they are not looking after is living apart from his family—

(a)to enable him to live with his family; or

(b)to promote contact between him and his family,

if, in their opinion, it is necessary to do so in order to safeguard or promote his welfare.

Duty to consider racial groups to which children in need belong

11Every local authority shall, in making any arrangements—

(a)for the provision of day care within their area; or

(b)designed to encourage persons to act as local authority foster parents,

have regard to the different racial groups to which children within their area who are in need belong.

Part IIChildren Looked After By Local Authorities

Regulations as to placing of children with local authority foster parents

12Regulations under section 23(2)(a) may, in particular, make provision—

(a)with regard to the welfare of children placed with local authority foster parents;

(b)as to the arrangements to be made by local authorities in connection with the health and education of such children;

(c)as to the records to be kept by local authorities;

(d)for securing that a child is not placed with a local authority foster parent unless that person is for the time being approved as a local authority foster parent by such local authority as may be prescribed;

(e)for securing that where possible the local authority foster parent with whom a child is to be placed is—

(i)of the same religious persuasion as the child; or

(ii)gives an undertaking that the child will be brought up in that religious persuasion;

(f)for securing that children placed with local authority foster parents, and the premises in which they are accommodated, will be supervised and inspected by a local authority and that the children will be removed from those premises if their welfare appears to require it;

(g)as to the circumstances in which local authorities may make arrangements for duties imposed on them by the regulations to be discharged, on their behalf.

Regulations as to arrangements under section 23(2)(f)

13Regulations under section 23(2)(f) may, in particular, make provision as to—

(a)the persons to be notified of any proposed arrangements;

(b)the opportunities such persons are to have to make representations in relation to the arrangements proposed;

(c)the persons to be notified of any proposed changes in arrangements;

(d)the records to be kept by local authorities;

(e)the supervision by local authorities of any arrangements made.

Regulations as to conditions under which child in care is allowed to live with parent, etc.

14Regulations under section 23(5) may, in particular, impose requirements on a local authority as to—

(a)the making of any decision by a local authority to allow a child to live with any person falling within section 23(4) (including requirements as to those who must be consulted before the decision is made, and those who must be notified when it has been made);

(b)the supervision or medical examination of the child concerned;

(c)the removal of the child, in such circumstances as may be prescribed, from the care of the person with whom he has been allowed to live.

Promotion and maintenance of contact between child and family

15(1)Where a child is being looked after by a local authority, the authority shall, unless it is not reasonably practicable or consistent with his welfare, endeavour to promote contact between the child and—

(a)his parents;

(b)any person who is not a parent of his but who has parental responsibility for him; and

(c)any relative, friend or other person connected with him.

(2)Where a child is being looked after by a local authority—

(a)the authority shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure that—

(i)his parents; and

(ii)any person who is not a parent of his but who has parental responsibility for him,

are kept informed of where he is being accommodated; and

(b)every such person shall secure that the authority are kept informed of his or her address.

(3)Where a local authority (“the receiving authority”) take over the provision of accommodation for a child from another local authority (“the transferring authority”) under section 20(2)—

(a)the receiving authority shall (where reasonably practicable) inform—

(i)the child’s parents; and

(ii)any person who is not a parent of his but who has parental responsibility for him;

(b)sub-paragraph (2)(a) shall apply to the transferring authority, as well as the receiving authority, until at least one such person has been informed of the change; and

(c)sub-paragraph (2)(b) shall not require any person to inform the receiving authority of his address until he has been so informed.

(4)Nothing in this paragraph requires a local authority to inform any person of the whereabouts of a child if—

(a)the child is in the care of the authority; and

(b)the authority has reasonable cause to believe that informing the person would prejudice the child’s welfare.

(5)Any person who fails (without reasonable excuse) to comply with sub-paragraph (2)(b) shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.

(6)It shall be a defence in any proceedings under sub-paragraph (5) to prove that the defendant was residing at the same address as another person who was the child’s parent or had parental responsibility for the child and had reasonable cause to believe that the other person had informed the appropriate authority that both of them were residing at that address.

Visits to or by children: expenses

16(1)This paragraph applies where—

(a)a child is being looked after by a local authority; and

(b)the conditions mentioned in sub-paragraph (3) are satisfied.

(2)The authority may—

(a)make payments to—

(i)a parent of the child;

(ii)any person who is not a parent of his but who has parental responsibility for him; or

(iii)any relative, friend or other person connected with him,

in respect of travelling, subsistence or other expenses incurred by that person in visiting the child; or

(b)make payments to the child, or to any person on his behalf, in respect of travelling, subsistence or other expenses incurred by or on behalf of the child in his visiting—

(i)a parent of his;

(ii)any person who is not a parent of his but who has parental responsibility for him; or

(iii)any relative, friend or other person connected with him.

(3)The conditions are that—

(a)it appears to the authority that the visit in question could not otherwise be made without undue financial hardship; and

(b)the circumstances warrant the making of the payments.

Appointment of visitor for child who is not being visited

17(1)Where it appears to a local authority in relation to any child that they are looking after that—

(a)communication between the child and—

(i)a parent of his, or

(ii)any person who is not a parent of his but who has parental responsibility for him,

has been infrequent; or

(b)he has not visited or been visited by (or lived with) any such person during the preceding twelve months,

and that it would be in the child’s best interests for an independent person to be appointed to be his visitor for the purposes of this paragraph, they shall appoint such a visitor.

(2)A person so appointed shall—

(a)have the duty of visiting, advising and befriending the child; and

(b)be entitled to recover from the authority who appointed him any reasonable expenses incurred by him for the purposes of his functions under this paragraph.

(3)A person’s appointment as a visitor in pursuance of this paragraph shall be determined if—

(a)he gives notice in writing to the authority who appointed him that he resigns the appointment; or

(b)the authority give him notice in writing that they have terminated it.

(4)The determination of such an appointment shall not prejudice any duty under this paragraph to make a further appointment.

(5)Where a local authority propose to appoint a visitor for a child under this paragraph, the appointment shall not be made if—

(a)the child objects to it; and

(b)the authority are satisfied that he has sufficient understanding to make an informed decision.

(6)Where a visitor has been appointed for a child under this paragraph, the local authority shall determine the appointment if—

(a)the child objects to its continuing; and

(b)the authority are satisfied that he has sufficient understanding to make an informed decision.

(7)The Secretary of State may make regulations as to the circumstances in which a person appointed as a visitor under this paragraph is to be regarded as independent of the local authority appointing him.

Power to guarantee apprenticeship deeds etc.

18(1)While a child is being looked after by a local authority, or is a person qualifying for advice and assistance, the authority may undertake any obligation by way of guarantee under any deed of apprenticeship or articles of clerkship which he enters into.

(2)Where a local authority have undertaken any such obligation under any deed or articles they may at any time (whether or not they are still looking after the person concerned) undertake the like obligation under any supplemental deed or articles.

Arrangements to assist children to live abroad

19(1)A local authority may only arrange for, or assist in arranging for, any child in their care to live outside England and Wales with the approval of the court.

(2)A local authority may, with the approval of every person who has parental responsibility for the child arrange for, or assist in arranging for, any other child looked after by them to live outside England and Wales.

(3)The court shall not give its approval under sub-paragraph (1) unless it is satisfied that—

(a)living outside England and Wales would be in the child’s best interests;

(b)suitable arrangements have been, or will be, made for his reception and welfare in the country in which he will live;

(c)the child has consented to living in that country; and

(d)every person who has parental responsibility for the child has consented to his living in that country.

(4)Where the court is satisfied that the child does not have sufficient understanding to give or withhold his consent, it may disregard sub-paragraph (3)(c) and give its approval if the child is to live in the country concerned with a parent, guardian, or other suitable person.

(5)Where a person whose consent is required by sub-paragraph (3)(d) fails to give his consent, the court may disregard that provision and give its approval if it is satisfied that that person—

(a)cannot be found;

(b)is incapable of consenting; or

(c)is withholding his consent unreasonably.

(6)Section 56 of the [1976 c. 36.] Adoption Act 1976 (which requires authority for the taking or sending abroad for adoption of a child who is a British subject) shall not apply in the case of any child who is to live outside England and Wales with the approval of the court given under this paragraph.

(7)Where a court decides to give its approval under this paragraph it may order that its decision is not to have effect during the appeal period.

(8)In sub-paragraph (7) “the appeal period” means—

(a)where an appeal is made against the decision, the period between the making of the decision and the determination of the appeal; and

(b)otherwise, the period during which an appeal may be made against the decision.

Death of children being looked after by local authorities

20(1)If a child who is being looked after by a local authority dies, the authority—

(a)shall notify the Secretary of State;

(b)shall, so far as is reasonably practicable, notify the child’s parents and every person who is not a parent of his but who has parental responsibility for him;

(c)may, with the consent (so far as it is reasonably practicable to obtain it) of every person who has parental responsibility for the child, arrange for the child’s body to be buried or cremated; and

(d)may, if the conditions mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) are satisfied, make payments to any person who has parental responsibility for the child, or any relative, friend or other person connected with the child, in respect of travelling, subsistence or other expenses incurred by that person in attending the child’s funeral.

(2)The conditions are that—

(a)it appears to the authority that the person concerned could not otherwise attend the child’s funeral without undue financial hardship; and

(b)that the circumstances warrant the making of the payments.

(3)Sub-paragraph (1) does not authorise cremation where it does not accord with the practice of the child’s religious persuasion.

(4)Where a local authority have exercised their power under sub-paragraph (1)(c) with respect to a child who was under sixteen when he died, they may recover from any parent of the child any expenses incurred by them.

(5)Any sums so recoverable shall, without prejudice to any other method of recovery, be recoverable summarily as a civil debt.

(6)Nothing in this paragraph affects any enactment regulating or authorising the burial, cremation or anatomical examination of the body of a deceased person.

Part IIIContributions Towards Maintenance of Children Looked After by Local Authorities

Liability to contribute

21(1)Where a local authority are looking after a child (other than in the cases mentioned in sub-paragraph (7)) they shall consider whether they should recover contributions towards the child’s maintenance from any person liable to contribute (“a contributor”).

(2)An authority may only recover contributions from a contributor if they consider it reasonable to do so.

(3)The persons liable to contribute are—

(a)where the child is under sixteen, each of his parents;

(b)where he has reached the age of sixteen, the child himself.

(4)A parent is not liable to contribute during any period when he is in receipt of income support or family credit under the [1986 c. 50.] Social Security Act 1986.

(5)A person is not liable to contribute towards the maintenance of a child in the care of a local authority in respect of any period during which the child is allowed by the authority (under section 23(5)) to live with a parent of his.

(6)A contributor is not obliged to make any contribution towards a child’s maintenance except as agreed or determined in accordance with this Part of this Schedule.

(7)The cases are where the child is looked after by a local authority under—

(a)section 21;

(b)an interim care order;

(c)section 53 of the [1933 c. 12.] Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

Agreed contributions

22(1)Contributions towards a child’s maintenance may only be recovered if the local authority have served a notice (“a contribution notice”) on the contributor specifying—

(a)the weekly sum which they consider that he should contribute; and

(b)arrangements for payment.

(2)The contribution notice must be in writing and dated.

(3)Arrangements for payment shall, in particular, include—

(a)the date on which liability to contribute begins (which must not be earlier than the date of the notice);

(b)the date on which liability under the notice will end (if the child has not before that date ceased to be looked after by the authority); and

(c)the date on which the first payment is to be made.

(4)The authority may specify in a contribution notice a weekly sum which is a standard contribution determined by them for all children looked after by them.

(5)The authority may not specify in a contribution notice a weekly sum greater than that which they consider—

(a)they would normally be prepared to pay if they had placed a similar child with local authority foster parents; and

(b)it is reasonably practicable for the contributor to pay (having regard to his means).

(6)An authority may at any time withdraw a contribution notice (without prejudice to their power to serve another).

(7)Where the authority and the contributor agree—

(a)the sum which the contributor is to contribute; and

(b)arrangements for payment,

(whether as specified in the contribution notice or otherwise) and the contributor notifies the authority in writing that he so agrees, the authority may recover summarily as a civil debt any contribution which is overdue and unpaid.

(8)A contributor may, by serving a notice in writing on the authority, withdraw his agreement in relation to any period of liability falling after the date of service of the notice.

(9)Sub-paragraph (7) is without prejudice to any other method of recovery.

Contribution orders

23(1)Where a contributor has been served with a contribution notice and has—

(a)failed to reach any agreement with the local authority as mentioned in paragraph 22(7) within the period of one month beginning with the day on which the contribution notice was served; or

(b)served a notice under paragraph 22(8) withdrawing his agreement,

the authority may apply to the court for an order under this paragraph.

(2)On such an application the court may make an order (“a contribution order”) requiring the contributor to contribute a weekly sum towards the child’s maintenance in accordance with arrangements for payment specified by the court.

(3)A contribution order—

(a)shall not specify a weekly sum greater than that specified in the contribution notice; and

(b)shall be made with due regard to the contributor’s means.

(4)A contribution order shall not—

(a)take effect before the date specified in the contribution notice; or

(b)have effect while the contributor is not liable to contribute (by virtue of paragraph 21); or

(c)remain in force after the child has ceased to be looked after by the authority who obtained the order.

(5)An authority may not apply to the court under sub-paragraph (1) in relation to a contribution notice which they have withdrawn.

(6)Where—

(a)a contribution order is in force;

(b)the authority serve another contribution notice; and

(c)the contributor and the authority reach an agreement under paragraph 22(7) in respect of that other contribution notice,

the effect of the agreement shall be to discharge the order from the date on which it is agreed that the agreement shall take effect.

(7)Where an agreement is reached under sub-paragraph (6) the authority shall notify the court—

(a)of the agreement; and

(b)of the date on which it took effect.

(8)A contribution order may be varied or revoked on the application of the contributor or the authority.

(9)In proceedings for the variation of a contribution order, the authority shall specify—

(a)the weekly sum which, having regard to paragraph 22, they propose that the contributor should contribute under the order as varied; and

(b)the proposed arrangements for payment.

(10)Where a contribution order is varied, the order—

(a)shall not specify a weekly sum greater than that specified by the authority in the proceedings for variation; and

(b)shall be made with due regard to the contributor’s means.

(11)An appeal shall lie in accordance with rules of court from any order made under this paragraph.

Enforcement of contribution orders etc.

24(1)A contribution order made by a magistrates' court shall be enforceable as a magistrates' court maintenance order (within the meaning of section 150(1) of the [1980 c. 43.] Magistrates' Courts Act 1980).

(2)Where a contributor has agreed, or has been ordered, to make contributions to a local authority, any other local authority within whose area the contributor is for the time being living may—

(a)at the request of the local authority who served the contribution notice; and

(b)subject to agreement as to any sum to be deducted in respect of services rendered,

collect from the contributor any contributions due on behalf of the authority who served the notice.

(3)In sub-paragraph (2) the reference to any other local authority includes a reference to—

(a)a local authority within the meaning of section 1(2) of the [1968 c. 49.] Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968; and

(b)a Health and Social Services Board established under Article 16 of the [S.I. 1972/1265 (N.I.14).] Health and Personal Social Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1972.

(4)The power to collect sums under sub-paragraph (2) includes the power to—

(a)receive and give a discharge for any contributions due; and

(b)(if necessary) enforce payment of any contributions,

even though those contributions may have fallen due at a time when the contributor was living elsewhere.

(5)Any contribution collected under sub-paragraph (2) shall be paid (subject to any agreed deduction) to the local authority who served the contribution notice.

(6)In any proceedings under this paragraph, a document which purports to be—

(a)a copy of an order made by a court under or by virtue of paragraph 23; and

(b)certified as a true copy by the clerk of the court,

shall be evidence of the order.

(7)In any proceedings under this paragraph, a certificate which—

(a)purports to be signed by the clerk or some other duly authorised officer of the local authority who obtained the contribution order; and

(b)states that any sum due to the authority under the order is overdue and unpaid,

shall be evidence that the sum is overdue and unpaid.

Regulations

25The Secretary of State may make regulations—

(a)as to the considerations which a local authority must take into account in deciding—

(i)whether it is reasonable to recover contributions; and

(ii)what the arrangements for payment should be;

(b)as to the procedures they must follow in reaching agreements with—

(i)contributors (under paragraphs 22 and 23); and

(ii)any other local authority (under paragraph 23).

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