Your guide to the Children and Social Work Act

What the act means for everyday practice across the children's workforce.

The Children and Social Work Act, which gained Royal Assent on 27 April, introduces a raft of changes for local authority duties on looked-after children, local safeguarding arrangements, the regulation of children's social workers and how children and young people are taught about sex and relationships.

The bill has had a bumpy ride through the parliamentary process, with peers proposing more than 50 amendments. Initial government proposals to allow local authorities to be exempt from social care legislation in an effort to stimulate more innovative practice were dropped following opposition from children's rights groups and MPs.

Meanwhile, constant pressure from campaigners and the Labour Party saw the government table an amendment to the bill in March requiring all secondary schools to teach sex and relationships education and primary schools to reach about healthy relationships. It also committed to making personal, social, health and economic education compulsory.

The other provisions of the act focus on improving support for children in, or with experience of, the care system. It outlines how councils should deliver their corporate parenting role, extend support for care leavers up to 25, and offer additional education help for adopted children and those subject to special guardianship.

It also paves the way for a new system of assessment and accreditation for social workers, plus a bespoke regulator for the sector.

Here, we examine what the Children and Social Work Act will mean for professionals and services, and assess the main unresolved issues.

Download the full guide as a PDF or click on each heading for more detail:

Sex and relationships education

Care and adoption

Local safeguarding

Social work profession

Care leavers

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