Section 20 Written Agreement

Sometimes voluntary accommodation in Section 20 can work very well and benefit children, parents and local authorities. However, this is often not the case and parents will find that voluntary accommodation takes much longer than originally planned or planned. Concerns about Section 20 were also raised by Lady Hale in the Williams Supreme Court case – Anor/London Borough of Hackney [2018] UKSC 37 (18). July 2018) noted: „These cases illustrate a number of problems related to the use of Section 20: separation of a baby from the mother at birth, without police protection or court decision, if it has not delegated the exercise of parental responsibility to the local authority or in circumstances where it is doubtful that the delegation was actually voluntary; Keeping a child in a local dwelling after one or both parents have expressed a desire to care for the child, or even formally requested his or her return; and the lack of action, assuming that parents have nothing against housing, when that means that there is no constructive planning for the child`s future. They also illustrate the dilemma facing the local authority: something needs to be done to care for the child, but there are serious doubts about the parent`s ability to effectively delegate the exercise of his or her responsibilities. Similarly, they illustrate the dangers when the local authority acts in the absence of such a delegation or receives them in cases where parents feel that they have little choice. There are none of the safeguards and safeguards available to both the child and the parents who participate in the mandatory procedures provided by law. But if you go unnecessarily to mandatory procedures, if there is still room for partnership, the situation can get worse in a way that makes family reunification more than less difficult. The case was delayed by nine months if the child had been voluntarily housed in accordance with Section 20 before proceeding. Any person with parental responsibility may voluntarily authorize the local authority to house their child in accordance with Section 20 of the Children`s Act 1989. Family law expert Melanie Bridgen helps to elucidate what Section 20 is and gives an overview of how she can get around the people involved.

Sometimes, when a child is cared for in accordance with Section 20, this has led to an unacceptable drift and a delay in deciding on the child`s long-term future. In the case of H (A Child – Breach of Convention Rights: Damages), it took LA almost a year to commence proceedings while the child was in a Section 20 dwelling, a delay that the court found to be both „unjustified“ and „inexcusable“. Moreover, the A.A. did not care enough that the parents understood what was going on. The parents each received $6,000 to violate their human rights. Often, Section 20 agreements go hand in hand with other written agreements; for example, to show what L`s expect parents to do or stop doing while their child is in care. These documents have no specific legal value, but they are often used as evidence in subsequent care procedures to show how cooperative (or uncooperative) the parents were and, therefore, how much they can count on in the future. Under the Child Control Regulations, the LA must appoint an independent screening officer (IRO) to perform the duties of Section 26(2A) of the Children`s Act 1989; Problems arose when parents felt that they had been „rushed“ or even harassed to make a decision to house their children in accordance with Section 20. Sometimes LAs get the consent of one parent, but other items. An LA should always try to get the approval of all those with parenting responsibilities.

Section 20 agreements can be a powerful instrument and ease the burden on the judicial system in the event of appropriate use.