R (on the application of D) v Southwark London Borough Council
Case date: 22 June 2006
During 2003, Ms D gave help and support to a child (S), after S’s father was violent towards her. S was thirteen years old at the time, and the child of Ms D’s former boyfriend. Ms D asked for help from the local authority, but did not receive any. S returned to live with her father.
In January 2004, a social worker employed by the local authority contacted Ms D and asked her to agree to care for S. There were new allegations of violence by her father, and the father was therefore prevented from providing S with care. Ms D agreed to do so. She later applied for financial assistance from the local authority in order to maintain and look after S.
The local authority refused to provide such financial assistance, on the grounds that S was not a child looked after by the local authority under Pt III of the Children Act 1989. Ms D applied for judicial review of that decision.
An issue was raised about whether S lived with and was cared for by Ms D under a private fostering arrangement between Ms D and S’s parents, or whether S was looked after by the local authority under s20(1) of the 1989 Act.
Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 says, where relevant, that every local authority must house any child in need in their area who appears to need housing because her carer has been prevented (permanently or not, and for whatever reason) from giving her suitable housing or care.
Subsection 4 says, where relevant, that a local authority can house any child within their area (even if someone with parental responsibility is able to house her) if they think that that would safeguard or promote the child's welfare.
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