About children in care
Children in the care of local authorities are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. The majority of children in care are there because they have suffered abuse or neglect. At any one time around 60,000 children are looked after in England (of whom some 59 per cent are subject to care orders). Some 90,000 children are looked after at some point in any one year.
The Government wants every child in care to grow up safe, happy, healthy, secure and loved. This is the only way they will be able to fulfill their potential.
The term 'looked after children' includes:
- Those children who are in care through a care order under section 31 of the Children Act 1989
- Those accommodated on a voluntary basis through an agreement with their parents under section 20 of that Act, or agreement with of the child if they are over 16.
- Children placed away from home under an emergency protection order
- Children on police protection/remand/detention (section 21 of the Children Act)
How are they cared for?
- Most looked after children are in foster care (73 per cent)
- Some 10 per cent are in children's homes
- The rest are cared for in a number of different settings including residential schools and placement with parents.
Young Person’s Guide to Being in Care
The Who Cares? Trust, working with the Department, has produced a guide for young people on being in care.
This is available as a series of pages on Who Cares? Trust, a website for young people
- General article Updated: 22 March 2011 [click on title above for direct link]
Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as:
- protecting children from maltreatment
- preventing impairment of children’s health or development
- ensuring children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care.
Child protection is a part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. It refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant harm.
Effective child protection is essential as part of wider work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. However, all agencies and individuals should aim to proactively safeguard and promote the welfare of children so that the need for action to protect children from harm is reduced.
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The Director of Children’s Services, under section 18 of the Children Act 2004 has responsibility for ensuring that a local authority meets their specific duties to organise and plan services and to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
Each local authority is responsible for establishing a Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) in their area and ensuring it is run effectively. An LSCB can cover more than one local authority area.
Social workers take a lead role in:
- responding to children and families in need of support and help
- undertaking enquiries following allegations or suspicion of abuse
- undertaking initial assessments and core assessments as part of the Assessment Framework
- convening strategy meetings and initial and subsequent child-protection conferences
- court action to safeguard and protect children
- coordinating the implementation of the child protection plan for children on the child protection register
- looking after and planning for children in the care of the council
- ensuring that looked-after children are safeguarded in a foster family, children's home or other placement.
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