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Responsibilities under the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004

Children Act 1989

The Children Act 1989 is the principal piece of legislation which makes provision about the safeguarding and promotion of the welfare of children.

Part III of the Children Act 1989 (Local authority support for children and families) no longer applies in Wales and has been replaced by provisions in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, particularly Parts 3 and 4 (assessing and meeting needs for care and support) and Part 6 (looked after and accommodated children).

Section 47(1) of the Children Act 1989 contains duties which require a local authority to make, or cause to be made, such enquiries as it considers necessary to enable it to decide whether it should take any action to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare.

Such action might result in a child becoming “looked after” by a local authority, either as a result of a local authority providing accommodation for the child (in accordance with section 76 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014) or following the making of a care order by the court (in accordance with section 31 of the Children Act 1989).

Children Act 2004

The Children Act 2004 builds on and strengthens the framework set out in the Children Act 1989 in a number of ways. There are a number of provisions in the Children Act 2004 which relate directly or indirectly to agencies’ responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Section 25 of the Children Act 2004 (co-operation to improve well-being: Wales) has been amended by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

Section 26 of the Children Act 2004 (children and young people’s plans: Wales) has been repealed by the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and replaced by the duty on public service boards to prepare and publish assessments of local well-being and local well-being plans.

Sections 31 to 34 of the Children Act 2004 (Local Safeguarding Children Boards: Wales) have been repealed and replaced by the provisions in section 134 to 140 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (Safeguarding Boards).


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