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Department for Education publish guidance on new three-tier covid system and how it impacts adoption and fostering practice in England

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The Department of Education has circulated the following guidance in relation to the new three-tier system of restrictions which will apply to every region in England from 14 October 2020.

 

New regulations come into force in England on 14 October 2020 introducing a three-tier system to restrict the spread of Coronavirus. Each tier is regulated by the following legislation:

Tier 1: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Medium) (England) Regulations 2020
Tier 2: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (High) (England) Regulations 2020
Tier 3: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Very High) (England) Regulations 2020

The regulations provide exceptions to the rule of six and to the rule of household mixing for the purpose of making arrangements for prospective adopters (including their household) to meet a child or children who may be placed with them for adoption:

‘Reasonably necessary for the purposes of arrangements for prospective adopters including their household to meet a child/children who may be placed with them for adoption as provided for by an adoption placement plan in accordance with reg 35(2) of the AARs 2005.’
 
This can be found in para 3(4)(i), Schedule 1 of tier 1 regulations, para 4(4)(i) & para 5(4)(i), Schedule 1 of tier 2 and para 4(4)(i), Schedule 1 of tier 3.

The above exceptions apply to all restriction tiers therefore they can be relied on whatever tier of restriction a particular area falls under and where a person is in one restriction tier area moving to another different restriction tier area. Foster carers can also be present at the introductory meetings, if their presence is reasonably necessary for the purposes of the introductory meetings. This ensures that foster carers and approved adopters can continue take part in adoption introductory meetings and prevent unnecessary delays to children moving in with their adoptive family. 
 
The restrictions in the regulations are to be reviewed by the Secretary of State to determine if they remain necessary. The review is to be at least every 28 days and for tier 2 areas the Secretary of State must also review whether each area that is part of the tier 2 area should continue to be so at least every 14 days. The regulations all expire at the end of 6 months from the day they come into force.