“The Children Act 1989
An Act to reform the law relating to children; to provide for local authority services for children in need and others; to amend the law with respect to children’s homes, community homes, voluntary homes and voluntary organisations; to make provision with respect to fostering, child minding and day care for young children and adoption; and for connected purposes.” The Children Act 1989, implemented for the most part on 14 October 1991, introduced comprehensive changes to legislation in England and Wales affecting the welfare of children. The scope of the Act is extremely wide. Consequently, it has major implications for the practice of all who work with or for children. It changed the standing of children and young people in law, introduced new concepts relating to the responsibilities of adults, changed the structure and functioning of the courts, and provided an entirely new range of orders in both private & public law relating to the care of children. The long history of children's welfare legislation had given rise to numerous uncoordinated official powers and functions, even within the same local authorities, resulting in the tragic maladministration of the Climbié case. Along with the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004, there were reports in 2002, 2003, and 2004-05. Each Act has progressively attempted to improve the legal powers and official functions related to children in all forms, and to make official provision for children better and safer.
In 2000 in London, England, an eight-year-old girl Victoria Adjo Climbié was tortured and murdered by her guardians. Her death led to a public inquiry and produced major changes in child protection policies in England. Up to her death, the police, the social services department of four local authorities, the National Health Service, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), and local churches all had contact with her, and noted the signs of abuse. However, in what the judge in the trial following Climbié's death described as "blinding incompetence", all failed to properly investigate the case and little action was taken. After Climbié's death, the parties involved in her case were widely criticised. A public inquiry, headed by Lord Laming, was ordered. It discovered numerous instances where Climbié could have been saved, noted that many of the organisations involved in her care were badly run, and discussed the racial aspects surrounding the case, as many of the participants were black. -------------------------------------------------
“The support and protection of children cannot be achieved by a single agency... Every Service has to play its part. All staff must have placed upon them the clear expectation that their primary responsibility is to the child and his or her family.” -------------------------------------------------
Lord Laming in the Victoria Climbié Inquiry Report
The subsequent report by Laming made numerous recommendations related to child protection in England. Climbié's death was largely responsible for the formation of the Every Child Matters initiative and the introduction of the Children Act 2004.
“Children Act 2004
An Act to make provision for the establishment of a Children’s Commissioner; to make provision about services provided to and for children and young people by local authorities and other persons; to make provision in relation to Wales about advisory and support services relating to family proceedings; to make provision about private fostering, child minding and day care, adoption review panels, the defence of reasonable punishment, the making of grants as respects children and families, child safety...