Part III: Local Authority Services |
68. Clause 41(3) provides that regulations
may be made that allow the Commission to inspect local authority
adoption and fostering services on such occasions or at such intervals
as may be described. The regulations will be able not only to
prescribe the normal inspection intervals but also to provide
for inspections without notice if the Commission has concerns
about the establishment or agency.
69. Clause 44 largely reflects the powers in
clause 20(1) and (2) in order to establish a broadly similar regulatory
framework between fostering agencies under Part II and local authority
fostering services under Part III. These powers do not extend
to adoption functions because they will continue to be regulated
under the provisions of the Adoption Act, and appropriate amendments
are made to section 9 of the that Act for that purpose (see paragraph
2 (6) of Schedule 3).
70. Clause 44(a) provides for regulations to
be made that define the criteria used in determining the fitness
or otherwise of people employed by local authorities in connection
with any fostering functions. The power is sought to enable detailed
requirements to be set out to ensure that only the most suitable
people are permitted to work with children. An example would be
that people have appropriate qualifications and experience in
working with children. This level of detail is best set out in
regulations rather than primary legislation.
71. Clause 44(b) provides for regulations to
be made as to the fitness of premises used by local authorities
in carrying out its fostering functions. An example might be the
need for proper security of files containing confidential information
about children. This level of detail is best set out in regulations
rather than primary legislation.
72. Clause 44(c) provides for regulations to
be made that set out how local authorities should manage and control
the operation of their fostering functions. Examples of what might
be included in the regulations are that local authorities should
have appropriate child protection and equal opportunities policies.
This level of detail is best set out in regulations rather than
73. Clause 44(d) provides for regulations to
be made that define the numbers and types of staff to be employed
by local authorities in connection with carrying out fostering
functions. It would ensure that the statutory fostering functions
of an authority were carried out effectively, by identifying the
numbers and types of staff required.
74. Clause 44(e) provides for regulations to
be made that set out requirements for the management and level
of training that is applied to local authority staff who carry
out any functions connected with fostering. Working with looked
after children and ensuring that they receive the best quality
of care requires a level of competence and knowledge about an
authority's statutory duties towards these children and young
people. The regulations might, for instance, ensure that staff
are aware of current law and practice relating to fostering. This
level of detail is best set out in regulations rather than primary
75. Clause 44(2) is similar to clause 20(2) which
provides that regulations may in particular prohibit people being
employed in certain positions if they are not on a register of
social workers maintained under clause 52(1).
76. Clause 45 (1) mirrors clause 21(1) and (2).
It creates a power to set national minimum standards that local
authority adoption and fostering services and other agencies will
be expected to comply with. It is important that services are
delivered against minimum acceptable standards for both fostering
and adoption and that these are taken account of when establishments
or agencies is to be inspected. Failure to comply with the required
standards will be taken account of by the registration authority
in deciding whether to inform the Secretary of State under Clause
77. Clause 46 (1) mirrors the power in clause
31(1) and provides that regulations may be made as to the content
and completion of an annual return by a local authority to the
registration authority. The regulations would define what information
is required in the annual return in relation to the delivery of
a local authority's adoption and fostering functions. This level
of detail is best suited to regulations.
78. Clause 47(1) provides that regulations may
be made to require an annual fee, of a prescribed amount, to be
paid by the local authority to the registration authority. Regulations
would define the level of fee required and the date by when it
must be paid. This mirrors clause 14(3) in Part II. Such detail
is better suited to regulations than primary legislation.
79. Clause 48(1) mirrors clause 23(1)
and provides that regulations may provide that it is an offence
to contravene or fail to comply with regulations made under this
Part. Anyone convicted of such an offence would be liable to a
fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale. The purpose
of such regulations would be to set out a series of offences and
their severity. The level of detail required suggests it would
be better suited to regulations than primary legislation.