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The Children Act 1989 pulled together and simplified all pre-existing legislation in relation to children and families. It imposes new duties on local authorities (LAs) - for example, the identification and assessment of 'children in need';
c) emphasized the importance of inter-agency work and a corporate approach to providing services to children and families (eg the creation of multi-professional responses to children identified as children in need).
The Act has duties, powers and responsibilities. A duty will require the local authority (LA) to comply with it, whereas a power means a LA can act. A responsibility refers to outcomes. Duties can be qualified, and in some areas the Act includes phrases like 'shall take reasonable steps to'. A qualified duty is little more than a mere power. Emphasis must be made as the nature of terms and definitions of the extent of LA responsibilities. Failure to understand this may cause misunderstandings between professionals. Generally, legislation only provides the framework for practice: it cannot change practice of itself, as only those using legislation can do that. Knowledge of the legislation and skills in using it are important but values, attitudes and beliefs that inform practice responses are also a prime consideration. Professionals' work with children and their families is a complex issue and constantly evolving and contradictory constraints, in particular the requirement to protect children from harm while avoiding unwarranted state intervention in family life.
The Children Act 1989, Part 1, contains fundamental principles that cover all parts of the Act. ...
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