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Looked After Children: Just the facts

Not all children or young people live with the families that they were born into.

This could be for lots of different reasons.

A looked after child, sometimes also referred to as LAC or Children in Care, are children or young people who have been under the care of the local authority for more than 24 hours.  Children who are looked after are usually living in foster care or a residential home, such as a children’s home or a family member that isn’t their parent.

A child or young person can become looked after for a number of different reasons and depends on what the local authority supports, however some of the most common reasons are:

  • The court has ordered that a child or young person should be taken into care as they have suffered significant harm or been put at significant risk of harm
  • Parents have requested support from the local authority
  • Parents have died or are too ill to care for their children

Other reasons that someone may become looked after includes under police protection or are within a juvenile setting (young offenders units).

When does someone stop being looked after?

Being looked after by the Local Authority doesn’t mean that they are looked after forever.

Children and young people stop being looked after if they are returned home to their parents, are adopted or if they turn 18. If a young person turns 18 whilst looked after, they are still supported until they are at least 21.

Do looked after children receive support?

Many children and young people who are looked after have the same health issues as their peers.

Some, due to previous experiences in their lives, may need additional support to help them reach their health potential in adulthood.

The Share Foundation

The Share Foundation is an organisation that aims to enhance the experiences and attitudes of children and young people who are looked after so that they can achieve their full potential.

They act on behalf of the Department for Education, running Child Trust funds Schemes and junior ISA’s for children and young people who are looked after. They also off the Stepladder of Achievement Programme which offers life skills and financial resources to enhance the prospects and capability of looked after teenagers.

You can find out more information about the Share Foundation and how they financially support children and young people who are looked after on their website.

There are many other services that support children and young people who are looked after. For further information about what support is offered within your local area, contact a health professional via ChatHealth or through your school.

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Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.

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