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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 covers services that children and young people may access. 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. This is known as the Common Assessment Framework (CAF). The act also encouraged the establishment of Local Safeguarding Children Boards and joint databases.

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 young carers with the same help and support as adult carers. All carers under the age of 18 have the right to have their support needs assessed and local authorities will help them care for a family member as best as they can.