The government will bring in new powers to speed up adoptions and “improve the standard of social work”, under a bill announced in the Queen’s speech today.
A children and social work bill will include powers to allow for the creation of a social work regulator to focus on training and professional standards, and oversee accreditation of children’s social workers.
The bill will also look to strengthen the rights of care leavers and speed up adoption procedures. The government said the main elements of the bill include:
- Changes to the considerations that courts must take into account in adoption decisions, “tipping the balance in favour of permanent adoption” where that is the right thing for the child.
- A new system of regulating social workers by setting up a specialist regulator for the profession with “a clear focus on driving improvement and introducing more demanding professional standards”.
- A new ‘care leavers covenant’, giving local authorities a statutory duty to tell care leavers the support they are entitled to – including housing, jobs and healthcare.
- Standards for how local authorities should act as a ‘corporate parent’ to support children in care and as they move into adult life.
- An extension to the right to a personal adviser, someone who will make sure care leavers receive the support they need as they transition into adulthood, to all who want one up to the age of 25.
- A duty on local authorities and schools to promote educational achievement for adopted children and those in the long-term care of family members or guardians.
- Better protection of children by ensuring that lessons are learned from serious child safeguarding cases.
- Support for innovation in children’s social care by allowing local authorities to pilot new, innovative approaches.
Most of the social work changes have been previously announced and were trailed by Prime Minister David Cameron in an article for the Sunday Times this weekend.
In the piece, Cameron said the profession required reform and his government would have “zero tolerance of state failure” in children’s services.
He pledged to “set new, demanding standards that we will expect every single child and family social worker to meet by 2020. And a new regulator will be brought into oversee this new system”.
The new social work body was first announced by education secretary Nicky Morgan in January. The new organisation will eventually replace the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as the regulator for social work.