Children in care At a glance
A child who is being looked after by the local authority is known as a child in care or "looked after".
Some children are placed in care voluntarily by parents struggling to cope. In other cases children's services will have intervened because a child was at risk of significant harm.
Children in care can be
- living with foster parents
- at home with their parents under the supervision of social services
- in residential children's homes
- other residential settings like schools or secure units.
In UK law children in care are referred to as "looked after children".
Most children who are in care live safely but a small number do experience harm. There are a number of risk factors related to being in care which can make children more at risk of abuse and neglect.
What can we do to help protect children in care
Care is a vital part of our child protection system. Children in care should have the same opportunities as their peers, including being healthy and safe, and given the opportunity to move successfully into adulthood.
Caring for the most vulnerable children in care requires a wider, more coherent, strategy that improves therapeutic support in care, increases stability and ensures systematic and sustained improvement across the care system.
- better support for children on the edge of care. More services supporting families struggling with problems like domestic abuse, substance abuse and mental health issues
- better evidence and assessment of whether and when to take children into care
- to ensure that care is seen as an effective part of our child protection system - not the last resort for children
- more therapeutic support for children in care
- to protect children in care from further harm
- better assessment, support and monitoring of children returning home from care.
Face to Face
Safeguarding Through Advocacy
What we do to protect children in care
- We want to make sure that looked after children receive the help and support they need to thrive.
- We work in partnership with children and young people, carers and professionals, local authorities, health services and other agencies to identify and develop the most effective practice.
- We also campaign for policy change where it is needed.
- We provide a number of services for children in care.
- There is a lot of work to be done and we will continue to work with children and young people, care providers and decision makers to improve practice and share what we learn.
Improving the care system for children
Tom Rahilly leads our work on protecting children who are taken into care. Listen to him talk about the care system, how we support children in care and what improvements need to be made:
Child Protection System
Our child protection system pages set out how to report child protection concerns, the referral and investigation process, care proceedings, case reviews, statistics, legislation, policy and guidance and research for each of the four nations.
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