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Information for parents of looked after children

What happens when your child is looked after by the local authority.

We will support children to live with their own families wherever this is in their best interest. However sometimes this is not possible for a variety of reasons, including risks to your child's safety. In such cases alternative care arrangements will need to be made. This might be just for a short period, but will depend on the situation and your child's needs.

Making arrangements

What we arrange with you about the care of your child will depend on their needs and what safety considerations there are.

  • Where there are relatives or friends who could potentially provide alternative care for the child, we will always explore this option with you. There is more information about these types of arrangements on the following page: Caring for a child you already know.
  • If this is not a suitable option for your child, the most common arrangement is that your child will live with foster carers. Foster carers are approved and specially trained by either the local authority or an independent agency to provide care for looked after children.
  • For a small number of children, we will need to arrange for them to live in a residential home or specialist care setting in order to meet their needs effectively.

In some cases a Court Order will be necessary to ensure that arrangements that are in the child's best interest are put in place.

When everyone involved agrees with the proposed arrangements for looking after your child away from home, it can be possible for this to happen on a voluntary basis without a Court Order.

What happens next?

Whatever arrangements are made, the law says that there are a number of things that the local authority has to do to make sure that children who are looked after are safe, well, and properly cared for.

This includes:

  • A care and support plan - after discussions involving everyone who will be part of your child's support network, a care and support plan is written up. This explains to everyone involved what has been agreed, what needs to happen next and who needs to do what.
  • Visiting your child regularly at the place they are living.
  • Reviewing the situation with you, your child and other people working with you. This is called a 'LAC review'.
  • Ensuring regular health checks take place.

When your child is looked after we will work in partnership with you, and you will still be involved in their life. The care and support plan explains how this will happen including when you will see each other. This is referred to as 'contact'.

Review meetings are a key time when you can tell us what you think about how the plan is going, what is working well and what you are worried about.