Government announces ‘major reforms’ in children and families bill

Children's minister said the government's children and families bill will 'overhaul adoption' and tackle 'appalling delays' in family justice

Children's minister Edward Timpson will deliver a speech on the bill today

The government has published its children and families bill, promising ‘major’ and ‘radical’ reforms to adoption and family justice.

Children’s minister Edward Timpson, who will deliver a speech on the bill later this morning, said the reforms will break down barriers to adoption and overturn the disadvantages faced by vulnerable children and families.

“I am determined that every young person should be able to fulfil their potential regardless of their background,” Timpson said.

“For this to happen we must tackle the disadvantages faced by our most vulnerable children and families. Our measures in the children and families bill do just that.”

He said the bill will enable ministers to “overhaul adoption – breaking down barriers for adopters and provide more support to children”. “We will reform family justice – tackling appalling delays and focussing on the needs of the child,” he added.

“And we will improve services for vulnerable young people transforming the special educational needs system and better protecting children’s rights.

The bill will also strengthen support for looked-after children at school, with every council required to have a ‘virtual school head’ responsible for championing the education of children in the authority’s care as if they were all in one school.

Meanwhile, support for children with special educational needs will extend from birth to 25, and the role of the children’s commissioner will be strengthened.

The bill will make the position more effective by clarifying the commissioner’s independence from government.

The government has already revealed radical plans for reforming adoption and family justice.

The measures include a 26-week deadline on care cases, a clear message that ethnic matching should not become a barrier to adoption and new legislation allowing ministers to force under-performing councils to outsource their adoption service.

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