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Adoption and Children Act (Northern Ireland) 2022

Section 123 – Corporate parenting principles

Section 123 defines corporate parenting principles in legislation by inserting a new Article 26A into the Children Order. It introduces seven key needs (collectively known as corporate parenting principles) which authorities must have regard to whenever they exercise a function in relation to looked after children, relevant children and former relevant children (otherwise known as looked after children and care leavers).

Paragraph (1) of new Article 26A requires an authority, in carrying out their functions in relation to the persons to whom this Article applies, to have regard to the need:

  • to act in their best interests of, and to promote their well-being;

  • to encourage them to express their views, wishes and feelings;

  • to take account of their views, wishes and feelings;

  • to help them gain access to and get the best use of the services provided by an authority, and by any relevant partner;

  • to promote high aspirations and seek to secure the best outcomes for them;

  • for them to be safe and for stability in their home lives, relationships and education or work; and

  • to prepare them for adulthood and independent living.

Paragraph (2) sets out the persons to whom Article 26A applies – looked after children, relevant children (as defined in Article 34B(2)) and former relevant children (as defined in Article 34D(1)).

Paragraph (3) defines a “relevant partner” as a “children’s authority” and “other children’s service provider” within the meaning given by section 9 of the Children’s Services Co-operation Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 and “well-being” has the meaning given by section 1 of that Act. The intention is to strengthen links to that Act and the duty to co-operate that it provides.

Paragraph (4) requires an authority to have regard to any guidance given by the Department as to the performance of the duty under paragraph (1).

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