Local Authorities Duty to Consult

Posted on Tuesday, 5th Jul, 2016 at 08:09:27 PM
It is important to note that, even though under a care order the LA is in the driving seat, they cannot ignore the other passengers, the LA MUST consult with and inform other PR holders about important decisions they make for the child and they have rightly been subject to serious criticism when they have failed to do this.

See the case from 2013 where Kingston on Hull City Council were subject to a successful judicial review of their failure to consult parents.

The Judge made clear at paragraph 58 his views about the duty to consult

I have made it clear that there is a duty upon a local authority to consult with all affected parties before a decision is reached upon important aspects of the life of a child whilst an ICO is in force. I have been shown the guidance issued by HM Government to local authorities in 2010 The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations where there is valuable material available to social workers about how to approach their difficult task in this regard.

Paragraph 1.5 provides inter alia:
Parents should be expected and enabled to retain their responsibilities and to remain closely involved as is consistent with their childs welfare, even if that child cannot live at home either temporarily or permanently.

If children are to live apart form their family, both they and their parents should be given adequate information and helped to consider alternatives and contribute to the making of an informed choice about the most appropriate form of care.

Whilst it is not spelled-out quite as starkly as perhaps it should, there is contained therein a plain message that a local authority must consult and, in my judgment, that is even more crucial during the interim phase of proceedings when final decisions as to the threshold criteria and outcome have not been made by a court.

The issue about how the LA needs to consult will depend on the facts of each case, but should usually include the parents and the guardian, if one is appointed and any other family member who has a close link to the children, such as a grandparent who may be caring for the child or otherwise closely concerned.

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2013/388.html

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