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Review of the Children Law and Outcomes

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Committee for Health & Social Care - P.2022/74

 

  • Original Propositions

    • The States are asked to decide:-
    • Whether, after consideration of the Policy Letter entitled 'Review of the Children Law and Outcomes, dated 19th August 2022, they are of the opinion:-
    • 1. To agree that the family care and justice system should be improved to reduce delays in determining outcomes for children and to remove duplication within the system and that these improvements will be delivered through amending the Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Law, 2008 ("the Law"), as set out in Propositions 3 - 20 below and through changes to be made by all agencies operating within the system.
    • 2. To agree that the policy principles underpinning the family care and justice system agreed by the States of Deliberation in 2004 ("the 2004 policy principles") and set out in the Law, remain valid. 
    • 3. To direct that the Law and the Children (Miscellaneous Provisions)(Guernsey and Alderney) Ordinance, 2009 ("the Children Ordinance") should be amended, as set out in paragraphs 6.4 - 6.6 of the Policy Letter, so that the Law includes the duties of the States of Guernsey currently set out in the Children Ordinance, provides for the details of the duties to be set out in secondary legislation, and provides greater clarity on the duty on the Committee for Health & Social Care to investigate where compulsory intervention may be necessary.
    • 4. To direct that the Law should be amended, as set out in paragraphs 6.7 - 6.14 of the Policy Letter, to better reflect the 2004 policy principles relating to the 'duty to co-operate', so that the duty to co-operate is applicable to all agencies when assisting children and their families who are in need of help.
    • 5. To direct that the Law should be amended to include a Commitment to Safeguarding, as set out in paragraphs 6.15 - 6.19 of the Policy Letter.
    • 6. To direct that the Law should be amended to enable cases to be remitted from the court to the Child, Youth and Community Tribunal in appropriate cases, as set out in paragraphs 6.20 - 6.22 of the Policy Letter.
    • 7. To direct that the Law should be amended to empower the court to retain and dispose of cases where it determines the facts on referral from the Children's Convenor, in appropriate cases, as set out in paragraphs 6.23 - 6.26 of the Policy Letter.
    • 8. To direct that the Law should be amended to enable the Child, Youth and Community Tribunal proceedings to be paused or stopped when a Community Parenting Order application is being made to the court, and to avoid concurrent proceedings in these instances, as set out in paragraphs 6.27-6.29 of the Policy Letter.
    • 9. To direct that the Law should be amended to place an obligation on relevant responsible adults to attend hearings of the Child Youth and Community Tribunal, unless excused or where their attendance is not considered necessary, and to confer a power on that Tribunal to fine those who fail to attend without a valid reason, as set out in paragraphs 6.30 - 6.39 of the Policy Letter.
    • 10.  To direct that the Law should be amended on the basis set out in paragraphs 6.40 - 6.43 of the Policy Letter, to:
    •        a. Require the Committee forHealth & Social Care to notify the Children's Convenor within a defined timescale when it has made an application to court to remove a child from its carers;
    •        b. Require the Child, Youth and Community Tribunal to notify the Committee forHealth & Social Care within a set timescale if a case it is considering passes the threshold for a court order; and
    •        c.  Prohibit the Children's Convenor, on being notified, from undertaking any investigation or action in relation to a case, unless the Children's Convenor has evidence or information that might be relevant to the case that should be disclosed.
    • 11. To direct that the Law should be amended to remove the requirements for applications for adoption and special contact orders to be notified to the Children's Convenor, as set out in paragraphs 6.44 - 6.47 of the Policy Letter.
    • 12. To approve the changes set out in paragraphs 6.48 - 6.84 of the Policy Letter, in relation to the legal orders and order thresholds, and, for the purpose of giving effect to those changes, to direct that the Law should be amended to:
    •        a. Provide for separate legal thresholds for referrals to the Children's Convenor and legal orders made by the Child, Youth and Community Tribunal, and the court;
    •        b .Confer power on the court to make a 'Supervision Order' placing a child under the supervision of the Committee forHealth & Social Care while the child still lives in the family home (or is placed with a relative);
    •        c. Confer power on the court to make a 'Child Assessment Order', including providing for the court having the power to treat the application as one for an Emergency Child Protection Order if the application for the order is not complied with by those with parental responsibility for the child concerned;
    •        d. Introduce new threshold criteria for making a Community Parenting Order ("CPO");
    •        e. Make such further amendments to the provisions in respect of CPOs to ensure they are consistent with the revised threshold criteria and the purpose of the order as envisaged in the 2004 States Report;
    •        f. Introduce statutory criteria for the making of an interim Community Parenting Order in line with the amended test for the CPO;
    •        g.  Remove the provision that a Parental Responsibility Order is automatically discharged by the making of a CPO; and
    •        h.  Remove the provision that an Emergency Child Protection Order is automatically discharged when the Child, Youth and Community Tribunal first sits to consider the child's case.
    • 13. To approve the changes set out in paragraphs 6.85- 6.102 of the Policy Letter, and, for the purpose of giving effect to those changes, to direct that the Law should be amended to bring the thresholds for making an Emergency Child Protection Order and an Exclusion Order, and the exercise of Police Powers (to protect a child), in line with comparable jurisdictions, including consequential changes in respect of Recovery Orders.
    • 14. To direct that the Law should be amended where it relates to care requirements, as set out in paragraphs: 6.3; 6.103-6.118 of the Policy Letter, to:
    •        a. Replace the term 'compulsory intervention' with 'care requirement' in the new threshold criteria for the Children's Convenor and Child, Youth and Community Tribunal;
    •        b. Clarify the purpose of making a care requirement with the intent that it is used only in cases where there is a reasonable prospect of positive change, so that the child can either continue living within the family or be reunited within a relatively short period;
    •        c. Remove the requirement that "there is no person being able or willing to exercise parental responsibility..." from the list of conditions that form part of the threshold for both the temporary intervention of the Child, Youth and Community Tribunal through a care requirement and the more permanent intervention of the court through the making of a CPO;
    •        d.  Rename the 'conditions' for a care requirement as 'grounds'; and
    •        e. Update the list of such grounds as set out in Appendix G; and
    •        f.  Remove the 28-day review requirement for renewal of a care requirement and establish a requirement for a review at a minimum of six months in its stead.
    • 15. To direct that the Law should be amended to enable the involvement of Family Proceedings Advisers pre-proceedings where required for the welfare of the child, as set out in paragraphs 6.119-6.123 of the Policy Letter.
    • 16. To direct that the Law is amended, as set out in paragraphs 7.22-7.25 of the Policy Letter, to reflect changes to the names of the statutory agencies as follows:
    •        a. The Safeguarder Service to be known as the Family Proceedings Advisory Service;
    •        b. The officers appointed as Safeguarders to be referred to as Family Proceedings Advisers; and
    •        c. The 'Islands Child Protection Committee' to be known as the 'Islands Safeguarding Children Partnership'.
    • 17.  To direct that the Law should be amended to provide greater clarity as to its legal effect and intention in relation to information sharing, including the ability to capture and share information, between relevant agencies, relating to improving the welfare of the child, in line with the Data Protection (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2017, as set out in paragraphs 6.124-6.130 of the Policy Letter.
    • 18. To note the establishment of Information Sharing Protocols, and to direct all relevant responsible Committees to ensure these are maintained and complied with.
    • 19.  To direct that the Children (Consequential Amendments etc) (Guernsey and Alderney) Ordinance, 2009 be amended so as to include persons who have care of a child but do not hold parental responsibility within the scope of the child cruelty offence in the Loi ayant rapport à la Protection des Enfants et des Jeunes Personnes 1917, as set out in paragraphs 7.26 - 7.28 of the Policy Letter.
    • 20. To agree to amend the Children Ordinance as set out in paragraphs 7.3 - 7.21 of the Policy Letter, to:
    •        a.  Ensure the relevant sections are referred to in the Law;
    •        b.  Enable the Children's Convenor to suspend part of the conditions of a CR;
    •        c.  Include a power for the Tribunal, to adjourn a CR hearing and make an interim variation of a CR;   
    •        d.  Introduce a power for the Convenor to transfer a case to Her Majesty's Procureur;
    •        e.  Amend the terms and conditions of the appointment of the President of the Tribunal;
    •        f.  Include an additional power for the Convenor to withhold information to protect any person from harm;
    •        g. Recognise a wider range of family members as a party to proceedings, irrespective of their existing parental rights and responsibilities;  
    •        h. Grant discretion to the Tribunal to recognise wider persons who have had significant involvement in the child's upbringing as parties;
    •        i.  Enable the Convenor to make the decisions in relation to parties who can attend at the Convenor's Meeting, subject to a suitable right of appeal being established; and
    •        j.  Removal of upper and lower age limits for Tribunal member appointments.
    • 21. To direct the Committee for Health & Social Care, in consultation with other relevant Committees, to scope the requirements of phase 2 of the Review Children Law, including the resource requirements, for consideration for inclusion in the 2023 Government Work Plan.
    • 22. To direct the Committee for Health & Social Care, in consultation with the Committee for Home Affairs and the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture and all relevant agencies, to review operational procedures to ensure proportionate monitoring and reporting that will assist in determining the effectiveness of these changes on the family care and justice system and outcomes for children, as set out in section 9 of the Policy Letter.
    • 23. To direct the Policy & Resources Committee to co-ordinate the work of the Committees for Employment & Social Security, Health & Social Care and Home Affairs, to:
    •        a. Frame and commission the review of the legal aid service set out in the Government Work Plan to also give due consideration to the systemic issues relating to the availability of Advocates and the use of alternative dispute resolution including mediation in the family care and justice system; and
    •        b.  Scope the resourcing requirements to respond to the recommendations of the review, for consideration for inclusion in the 2023 Government Work Plan.
    • 24. To direct the Committee forHealth & Social Care to establish a cycle of independent reviews of the family care and justice system, no less than every three to five years, starting from 2025, or a year after the commencement of the amended legislation, whichever occurs sooner.
    • 25. To direct the preparation of such legislation as is necessary to give effect to the above decisions, including any necessary consequential, incidental or supplementary provision, and engagement with the court as to possible Practice Directions.
    • The above Propositions have been submitted to Her Majesty's Procureur for advice on any legal or constitutional implications in accordance with Rule 4(1) of the Rules of Procedure of the States of Deliberation and their Committees.  
  • Amendments

 

 

 

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P.2022/74 - Review of the Children Law and Outcomes

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