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Proposals to expedite the adoption process and increase council support for children and young people featured in The Queen’s Speech today.

In her 65th speech marking the state opening of Parliament, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II said the Government would “increase life chances for the most disadvantaged” through a series of measures that will be brought in to support those young people in receipt of state support. 

A key point in her overview of reforms of direct relevance to those in care was a promise that “children should be adopted by new families without delay”.

The Government will legislate under the Children and Social Work Bill, which is expected to deliver more rigorous standards from social workers, whilst a new regulatory body is expected to be introduced. Much of this has been on the cards for some time though. In fact, Chief Social Workers for England, Isabelle Trowler and Lyn Romeo talk about some of these future changes in the current edition of Sanctuary Social Work News magazine. 

We’ve not yet heard much about the ‘care leavers covenant’ though, which is expected to be included within the legislation and will detail what housing and employment support care leavers will be entitled to. 

There’s talk of the Bill including the formal use of new standards on how councils should effectively be ‘corporate parents’ for those young people in care, with schools and local authorities expected to provide new duties on promoting educational attainment for those in long-term care. 

Although a seemingly broad statement, the Queen said the legislation will work to ‘improve the standard of social work and opportunities for young people in care in England’ and that courts must take into account ‘tipping the balance’ in favour of permanent arrangements when considering adoption. 

Today’s speech follows on from David Cameron’s assertions that he is “unashamedly pro-adoption”, but he has been met with some opposition. Commenting just a couple of days ago, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) expressed its concerns at “the prime minister’s unequivocal statement of faith in adoption” as this was “a complex area’ requiring a fine balance of support”. 

Keep up-to-date with the latest on the Children and Social Work Bill as we track its progress through parliament by providing regular updates on our blog.   

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