Government plans for radical overhaul of family law would do little to help improve lives of vulnerable children, warn charities

 

Charities warned that Government plans for a radical overhaul of family law including the introduction of shared parental leave would do little to help improve the lives of the most vulnerable children.

The Coalition’s new Children’s and Families Bill will allow fathers to share up to a year’s leave to look after their newborn children and also includes reforms to adoption, family justice, the Special Educational Needs (SEN) system, and plans to introduce childminders agencies.

But while charities expressed support for the aims of the Bill many said they were concerned that the promised improvements would fail to be delivered.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the charity Scope, said the plans were disappointing arguing they would do “nothing to alleviate the stress and anxiety” felt by parents of disabled children.

He said: "Parents of disabled children have been looking forward to action. But instead it looks like the Government is going to politely suggest to local bodies that they do their best to improve things.”

Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, warned that funding cuts made improvements unlikely. She said: “This Bill is being introduced against a backdrop of deepening cuts to frontline services for families of children with autism, and at the same time as schools and colleges are grappling with an entirely new funding system. We want to see young people with autism getting better coordinated support from early years to 25, but there is a growing gap between the aspirations of the Bill and the reality of diminishing budgets, fewer services, and the increased battles for support families are facing on the ground.”

The proposed reforms will give parents greater flexibility about how they 'mix and match' care of their child in the first year after birth. They may take the leave in turns or take it together, provided they take no more than 52 weeks between them.

Ministers also plan to speed up adoption to cut the current average wait of two years to place a child with a new family. The Bill seeks to improve support for the families, and ensure that a search for a perfect or partial ethnic match does not stop a child being placed with a new family.

On family justice, the Bill seeks to introduce a time limit of 26 weeks when courts are considering whether a child should be taken into care, ensuring they do not get caught up in unnecessary delays. It will also bring in new “child arrangement orders” designed to focus parents on the child's needs rather than their own “rights” and make sure more families have the opportunity to try mediation before applying to court.

The Bill aims to extend the SEN system from birth to 25-year-olds, giving children, young people and their parents greater choice in decisions and ensuring needs are properly met. It will replace statements and learning difficulty assessments with a new birth-to-25 Education, Health and Care Plan, extending rights and protections to young people in further education and training and offering families personal budgets so they have more control over the support they need.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments