Looked after children (health and wellbeing needs in South Tyneside)
Any child may be in need of help and protection at any time. There is no single factor which is a necessary or sufficient condition for a safeguarding concern to arise, and children may be in need due to an organic condition, a single occurrence, or a persistent set of circumstances. A proportion of children are considered to be at risk of significant harm, and direct statutory intervention is needed.
Some children experience harm or risk of harm which is so significant that the Council must secure their safety by taking them into care and becoming their legal guardian. A child in this situation is a Looked After Child and the Council becomes their Corporate Parent. Nationally, the number of looked after children has continued to rise; it has increased steadily over the last eight years. This reflects an increased demand for child protection.
Children enter the care of the Local Authority by two main routes:
Under section 20 of the Children Act 1989: the local authority will find suitable accommodation for a child when the parents accept and agree that they cannot provide a suitable home for their child. Parental responsibility remains with the parent/guardian & any person who has parental responsibility can remove the child from local authority accommodation at any time.
Under section 31 of the Children Act 1989: the local authority will apply for a care order which will be made by a court. The Local Authority acquires parental responsibility for the child.
Where children become looked after by the Local Authority the following three options for legal permanence must be fully considered:
- Remain with or return to birth parent(s) without a legal order, with appropriate support to maintain this.
- Live with a relative or person close to the child by virtue of a Special Guardianship Order or Child Arrangements Order(previously a Residence Order)
- Adoption into an alternative family
If none of these is available, the other options available are:
- Living with long-term foster carers as a looked after child;
- Living in a stable placement in a children's home.
Related JSNAA topics:
- Poverty and child poverty
- Children in Need of Help and Protection
- Early Help
- Mental Health
- Domestic Abuse
- Substance misuse
- Pregnancy and teenage pregnancy
- Sexual health