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When considering the welfare of children there are several pieces of legislation that should be taken into account, as well as your own organisation’s policies and procedures and ways of working.

The Children Act 1989 is the Legislation that has been written to protect the welfare of children who are at risk and also children who may be in need of services. This tells you exactly what you need to do if you suspect a child or young person is at risk of harm or in need of support.

The Children Act 2004 provides the legal basis for how social services and other agencies deal with issues relating to children. It places a duty on Local Authorities and their partners to cooperate and make sure that services work together and (where possible) have a joint plan developed in partnership with the parents, children and young people and to make it clear to everyone, how children should be looked after in the eyes of the law.  The principles of the act are to allow children to enjoy life and be healthy, to be safe and able to contribute to society in a positive way and maximise their potential to ensure that they develop skills which will help them to achieve economic stability.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 has two parts, the first one stating what is considered a sexual offence, including physical and non-physical contact. The Act also defines sexual offences against children under 13 and under 16. The age of consent is set at 16, unless you hold a position of trust in relation to the young person, for example as their worker, teacher, trainer etc. In that case, the age of consent is 18. The second part of the act deals with the sex offenders register and civil protective orders.

The Care Act 2014 brings care and support legislation together into a single act with new well-being principles at its heart. Although the Care Act is meant for adults in need of support and their carers it also makes some provisions for children and young carers. Children who care for their parents in their own home are being made part of their parent’s needs assessment in order to establish the support and help they need.

And finally, The Children and Families Act 2014 aims to provide better protection to vulnerable children, a new system to help children with special educational needs and disabilities, improved support for children whose parents are going through separation and help for parents to balance work and family life.  It also ensures necessary changes to the adoption system, helping children who need loving homes to be placed more quickly and providing children with the choice to stay with their foster families until their 21st Birthday. The act also includes a number of new measures to protect the welfare of children in general.