Children England is one of 50 organisations and individuals to sign a joint letter to Children's Minister Nadim Zahawi urging that his department drop the recently published 'myth buster' on interpreting children's social care regulations and guidance, which threatens to confuse and undermine implementation of safeguards for children. 

Thanks to Article 39 and their legal advisors for analysing and responding to this government document, which was published without consultation.

Dear Minister


We write to express our deep concern about the ‘myth busting’ guide, which was recently published on your Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme microsite.

Several parts of the document incorrectly describe the statutory framework for England’s care system. Following legal advice, we ask that these sections be immediately withdrawn to avoid the risk of confusion and to prevent any harmful effects on vulnerable children and young people, and those caring for them.

It is of utmost importance that legal certainty be maintained when it comes to the care and protection of vulnerable children and young people looked after by local authorities. To frame as ‘myths’ a series of questions about the care system’s statutory framework is unhelpful. This is because it gives the impression that key parts of current social work knowledge and understanding are untruths.

This ‘myth busting’ guide is available online, it carries your Department’s logo and contains the statement that “all of the responses below have been agreed by the Department for Education and their lawyers in consultation with Ofsted”. It is a reasonable assumption that those reading the guide will view it as having official approval and being intended to widely impact social work practice.

Although the so-called myths are not always clearly expressed, there are statements in the document which undoubtedly run counter to the current statutory framework. Whether intended or not, this could be construed as an encouragement to local authorities to act in contravention of the statutory framework.

Should amendments to regulations and statutory guidance be seen to be necessary, we ask that proposed changes be subject to proper consultation. If the reason for clarification and/or changes to the statutory framework is because of widespread misunderstanding, we would ask that the Department clearly set out: the myths which are believed to currently exist; who is said to believe these myths; and why they are, indeed, myths.

Below we set out our principal concerns. We have sought to confine our comments to interpretations of the current statutory framework, rather than providing justification for the law as it stands. 

Download the full letter and concerns about the myth buster