What is a Looked After Child?
What is meant by ‘Looked After Child’?
A child or young person who is under the care of their local authority for more than 24 hours is considered a looked after child. This term is used to generically refer to children in care. It may refer to children who are living with foster parents or in residential children’s homes.
A young person stops being a looked after child if they are adopted, if they return home to their birth parents and the local authority are no longer involved with the child’s, or when they turn 18. However, local authorities are required to support children who are care leavers until at least age 21 to ensure they have the very best chances for a successful life and a bright future.
The Children Act 1989
The Children Act 1989 is the law that protects children who may be in danger. This act specifies the various steps that the court takes when there is reason to believe a child is coming to harm or is in immediate danger. All efforts are made to keep the young person with their birth family, if it is feasible, and social workers and the local authority will always work with parents to develop a plan to rectify and support the situation.
If this plan is not adhered to or parents refuse to agree to the measures that have been put in place, then local authorities can request the court to begin care proceedings. The court order gives the local authority 51% parental responsibility for the child which allows them to make decisions in the best interest for the child’s health and wellbeing, as well as their education and other essential needs.
The LA will then look for accommodation arrangements for the child. If they feel that none of their carers are suitable to meet the requirements of the child’s needs, or if they simply don’t have enough carers to meet the demand of children needing a home, then they will work with an independent fostering agency to place the child with a foster family. Fusion Fostering recruits, assesses, trains, and supports foster carers to help support LAs and provide safe and stable homes for vulnerable children throughout England.
Know the statistics
The latest report from the government found that there were 80,080 children looked after in England on 31st March 2020, this is a 2% increase on last year, highlighting the importance of finding new carers who are passionate about foster care to ensure all children have the opportunity to live in a stable home environment.
In this category, the majority of children were older children with 31,370 aged between 10 and 15 years old, making up 39% of looked after children in England. Being a teenager is hard enough, but being a teenager who is living in care can be very challenging. They may struggle with low self-esteem, low confidence, and a hard time handling their emotions. As a foster parent, you have a real chance to make a difference to a young person’s life at a pivotal moment in their lives.
If you’re thinking about fostering and providing a warm and loving home to children and young people who desperately need a home, then what’s stopping you! Take the first step and contact us and we can handle the process from there. Call us on 03301 239 355 to speak to one of our friendly advisors.
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