Where is the law about voluntary arrangements found?
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The law about voluntary arrangements is found in three main places:
- In section 20 of the Children Act 1989.
This is where the mains powers and duties relating to voluntary arrangements are set out. Families may sometimes hear voluntary arrangements being called ‘section 20 voluntary accommodation’ or just ‘section 20’. They are called this after this section of the Children Act 1989. Government regulations and guidance
- In government regulations and statutory guidance.
This includes the details of how plans for children looked after under voluntary arrangements should be drawn up and reviewed. It explains what duties children’s services departments have to children voluntary arrangement. The guidance help children’s services and practitioners do what the law says the need to. Regulations and guidance relevant to voluntary arrangements include:
- The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010
- The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations volume 2: care planning, placement and case review
- Government guidance called Working Together 2018 This is about agencies working to keep children safe and well. And about how children’s services should work with children and their families
- In decisions made by senior judges in different cases. This is called case law. This includes an important decision made by judges in the Supreme Court. This is the highest court in the United Kingdom. The case is called Williams & Anor v London Borough of Hackney  UKSC 37. Judges in that case (and others) have helped to make clear:
- When someone with parental responsibility for a child can agree or object to a voluntary arrangement
- How voluntary arrangements may be used in a fair way
- What rights and options parents and children have when voluntary arrangements are suggested or put in place.
The important points from those decisions is included throughout these pages.