Queen’s Speech: Children & Families
10th May 2012
During her 2012 speech the Queen announced that her government had plans to introduce a Children and Families Bill. There is no date as to when this will formally be proposed and therefore it is unknown as to whether or when these proposals will come into force. Having regard to their popularity and common sense approach it is likely most, if not all, will come into force in the not too distant future and provided the government can find the money to fund them!
So what does these proposals mean for you:
Parental Leave: Provision for mothers to transfer their maternity leave to their partners. This would result in both parents sharing parenting responsibility and allow them more flexibility in balancing their work and family commitments. This is clearly an important step towards gender equality and could be crucial to women’s success in the workplace. It is unclear at present as to how the ‘pot’ of available money will be allocated i.e. on a means or universal basis.
Rules on Adoption: These will be changed in order that finding a child a permanent place to live is considered more important than race. This should lead to much more options for placement of a child than at present and emphasize the importance of placing a child quickly.
Special Educational Needs: Proposals to improve provision for disabled children with special educational needs and generally allow more choice in this regard.
Care Cases: All care cases in the court system to be dealt with within a 6 months deadline. This will reduce the unfortunately too common scenario where a child is residing away from their parent/s or guardian/s for what can be a year or more only to be retuned to them at the conclusion of the case.
Contact with both parents: More focus on children having a relationship with both parents in circumstances where their parents have separated and where it is the child’s best interests. This is the courts general approach now so how they intend to give more focus to this remains to be seen!
We will keep you informed if and when the changes come into force.
(Written by our Family Partner, Lindsey Britland).