Should children’s services make arrangements for a child in care under a court order to stay in touch with their wider family and friends’ network?
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Yes. Children’s services have a legal duty to promote contact between the child and their parents, wider family and other people connected to them (see paragraph 15 of schedule 2 of the Children Act 1989). This means they should make arrangements for a child in care to keep in wider family members. And they should keep to this duty unless the court says they don’t have to.
Government statutory guidance describes how important wider family can be to children in care. The guidance is called ‘The children Act 1989 guidance and regulations: Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review’ and says:
‘Grandparents and other relatives can provide a sense of family history and continuity where the child cannot live with his/her birth parents yet contact may easily be lost if the child becomes looked after’ (see paragraph 2.84)
A major review of research about children having contact with families has found that children benefit from contact with grandparents, siblings and wider family members. This type of family contact has a positive impact on relationships and the role that family members can play in providing support after the child leaves care. There is more information about this in the Messages from research and tips for discussing contact with social workers section.