Consultation launched to extend modifications to children’s social care regulations in Northern Ireland

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has launched a consultation to extend modifications to children’s social care regulations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The principal aim of the proposals is to enable HSC Trusts to undertake a number of their statutory duties in relation to vulnerable children in different ways or within moderately adjusted timescales across a small number of areas for a limited time period of up to 7 November 2021. The modifications may be revoked earlier if evidence suggests that they should.

On 7 May 2020, the Children’ Social Care (Coronavirus) (Temporary Modification of Children’s Social Care) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 came into operation to provide HSC Trusts and other children’s social care providers with temporary modifications to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic up to November 2020.

The Department subsequently extended these modifications for a further six months period up to 7 May 2021.

They also gave a commitment to keep under review whether any modifications need to remain in place for a further extended period by monitoring the use of the regulations.

The Minister for Health, Robin Swann said: “The latest monitoring data indicates that a level of flexibility in a small number of areas continues to be required for a further period to support staff to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their care. We are seeking views on proposals to extend the regulations relating to that small number of areas for another six months.”

The consultation opens today until 22 April and full details are available on the nidirect website.

Picture (c) Matt Mackey / PA.