Children's views - legislation

Law and standards

Compliance with statute and regulations is mandatory; compliance with standards is taken into account by the Council for Social Care Inspection, when registering and inspecting fostering service providers.

There are various legal channels through which children can express their views about foster care, and perhaps more particularly, their concerns and complaints.

Children Act 1989 section 1 [3] welfare checklist

'A court must have regard to the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child’ concerned in the legal proceedings.

Section 20 [6]

Before providing accommodation under this section, a local authority shall, so far as is reasonably practicable and consistent with the child's welfare:

Section 41

A Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service Officer [Children’s Guardian] must be appointed by the court to safeguard the child’s interests in 'specified proceedings' [application for care or supervision order, discharge or variation of these orders, section 34 contact orders etc]. The Guardian’s duties include ensuring that the child’s views are heard by the court and appointing a solicitor to represent the child in the court proceedings.

Where the child is of sufficient understanding to instruct the solicitor directly, rather than through the Guardian, and the child and guardian do not agree about what should happen, the solicitor will represent the child’s views to the court, not those of the Children’s Guardian.

Independent Visitors

Children Act 1989 Schedule 2 paragraph 17, and Definition of Independent Visitors [Children] Regulations 1991.

Local authorities must appoint Independent Visitors [whose role is to visit, advise and befriend] when a child is looked after by a local authority and contact with a parent or other person who has parental responsibility has been infrequent, she/he has not visited, been visited or lived with any of these people during the last 12 months, and it would be in the best interests of the child.

Complaints and representations by children

Children Act 1989 section 26 [3] to [9], and section 59 [4], and Representations Procedure [Children] Regulations 1991, and Fostering Service Regulations 2002 Regulation 18 [Fostering Service Provider complaints procedures].

The following provide ways in which children and young persons can make complaints or representations about aspects of their foster care:

The Advocacy Services and Representations Procedure [Children] [Amendment] Regulations 2004 and Guidance, and Looked After Children [2004] Section 11

A duty is placed on local authorities with social services responsibilities to ensure that advocacy services are provided for children and young people making or intending to make a complaint under section 26 or section 24D of the Children Act 1989.

Review of Children’s Cases [Amendment] Regulations 2004

Local authorities must appoint Independent Reviewing Officers, who have powers to ensure the child’s views are understood and taken into account at and between reviews, as well as: