Children in care and care leavers

Why children come into care

Most young people in care come from families who are having problems and can't provide for the child's needs. When support in their family home can't resolve these difficulties, and no-one else in the family is able to help, a child may need to be looked after elsewhere. This could be temporary or permanent.

When children are unable to live with their own families, we have a duty under the Children Act 1989 to look after and provide housing for them. We become their corporate parents. That means we become responsible for providing the very best quality of care for them. 

​It's important they have the same chances and life experiences that every child's entitled to​.​​​​​ We'll provide them with a safe place to live and support them to be healthy. We'll help them to achieve in education and socially.

Ways of coming into care

Some children are taken into our care because of a legal order made by a court. This could be a care order or emergency protection order. Others are taken into care because someone with parental duty has asked us to. This is called voluntary care.

Find out about the ways children come into care below.

Care order

Under the Children Act Section 31 the court can create a care order, placing the child in our care. Parental duty is shared between the parents and the local authority.

The court may make an interim care order, for up to eight weeks in the first instance, to investigate a child's home circumstances.

Voluntary care

Under the Children Act Section 20 we have a duty to provide accommodation for 'children in need'. This accommodation, either in foster care, residential care, or kinship placement, can be long or short term.

It doesn't involve the courts and the parent retains full parental responsibility.

Emergency protection order

This is a legal order made by the court at the request of social services when there's concern that a child is at risk of significant harm.

This could happen quite quickly and the child's parents would be notified in advance. The parents would also have a right to have legal advice.

Asylum seeking

Children are accommodated when there's no appropriate adult available to take responsibility for them.

Being remanded and becoming looked after

Some children become looked after because they've been charged with a criminal offence. They're placed in the care of the local authority by the court until they're dealt with by the criminal courts.