Figures recently released by the Family Rights Group confirm the fears of many of England’s family law solicitors by detailing a catalogue of shortcomings on the part of local authorities in England.
The figures, which come from a study entitled ‘Could do better…Must do better’ show that local authorities in England are still failing to heed the advice of many family law solicitors and are not publishing and maintaining a friends and family policy.
The failure can be seen as inexcusable; in 2011 statutory guidance was issued calling on all local authorities to publish a friends and family policy to protect the rights and interests of children living with extended family and carers. However, the research reveals that, as yet. in 2015 17% of all local authorities in England have failed to comply with the policy. In London, where 30% of local authorities are still wanting, the level of non-compliance is particularly stark.
And it is not just non-compliant local authorities that are coming up short; even where policies are in place, 13% of local authorities do not have a dedicated member of staff employed to support family and friend carers.
The situation raises some serious questions about the sincerity of local authorities; in 2014, Edward Timpson MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, wrote an official letter to all local authorities reminding them of their responsibilities.
“There are more children who cannot live with their parents who are being raised by grandparents and other family and friends carers than there are adopted or in foster care,” commented Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive of Family Rights Group.
“The carers make huge sacrifices for the vulnerable children they are raising, yet it is a postcode lottery as to what support or help they may get. It is essential therefore that they know what help might be available in their locality.”
For information regarding children,family,friends and carers as they relate to the law, click here for more from the family law solicitors at Healys LLP of Brighton and London.