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Children and Families Bill - Legislation for the way we live and work today.

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Children and Families Bill - Legislation for the way we live and work today.

This week sees the publication of The Children and Families Bill, which promises to significantly reform parental leave, and to alter the way the most vulnerable children in society are protected. Reforms to adoption and family justice are to be made, with the role of Children's Commissioner to be reinforced.

Couples are to be able to share parental leave from work following the birth of a child - as long as the maximum of 52 weeks in total is observed, mothers and fathers will be allowed to take turns, take time off together or mix and match the way in which the leave is taken. The Department of Education has stated its belief that this is the best way to get mothers back into work quicker if they so choose, enabling fathers to play a greater role in bringing up their children and creating a necessary greater flexibility within the workplace.

Reforming adoption law through changes to the Children Act 1989 and Children and Adoption Act 2002 are intended to speed up the process of children being placed in a loving home, and the educational interests of children in care are highlighted by the creation of  a 'virtual school head' for each local authority. This is to keep focus on the educational standards for children in care, as it is currently felt they are not improving  fast enough.

The family justice system sees additions to the Children's Act 1989, with a presumption in favour of shared parenting being included. The government wishes to remove delays, and keep children's best interests uppermost in the decision-making process.Child arrangement orders are to replace contact and residence orders.

Business Minister Jo Swinson commented that this Bill will provide for the work/life balance necessary in the 21st Century.

By Claire Clark on 12 Feb 2013, 10:52 AM

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