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Some amendments to Adoption and Children Regulations will be extended to 31 March 2021

Government publishes responses to consultation

The Department for Education has published its response to the consultation on extending certain provisions of the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (the 2020 Regulations) until 31 March 2020.

The 2020 Regulations made temporary amendments to a set of ten children's social care regulations and came into force on 24 April 2020. They provide for extra flexibility in some circumstances which may arise as a direct result of coronavirus (Covid-19) for example high levels of staff sickness. The temporary amendments which have been made do not reduce the responsibility that local authorities have towards protecting children from significant harm and protecting their welfare. The 2020 Regulations will expire on 25 September 2020. The Department for Education sought views on those regulations that the Government proposes should lapse and those that may be extended for continued use to 31 March 2021.

A majority of responses were in favour of each of the proposals to extend individual regulations on medical reports, virtual visits, and the continued suspension of the regular cycle of Ofsted inspections of children's services providers. The majority of responses also agreed that all other temporary flexibilities introduced in April 2020 should lapse and the need to introduce additional safeguards.

Consultees offered a range of opinions and many agreed the flexibilities were required to manage the initial stages of coronavirus. Local authorities commented that the flexibilities had been rarely applied, and only with management oversight, and they should be trusted to use flexibilities in a proportionate, risk assessed way to meet the needs of children, young people and families. Some suggested all flexibilities should be extended to allow for waves of coronavirus and, in particular, were concerned about the predicted rise in cases in autumn. Others felt that services would be back to normal by September and that the flexibilities would no longer be needed.

However, many consultees also raised concerns in the way the regulations were introduced, and many felt the regulations should not be extended and should be revoked immediately.

On the basis of responses to the consultation the Government has decided to continue with plans to allow the majority of regulations to lapse on 25 September, save those specifically set out in the response document, on medical assessments, virtual visits and Ofsted inspections.

The Government has no plans to extend the regulations beyond March 2021.

For the response document, click here.