Looked after children (LAC)

Looked after children (LAC) are those under 18 in the care of Children’s Services. This happens when the parents have asked for this or the child is at risk. LAC often come from families facing hardship or major changes.
They receive care and a place to live either:

  • with foster carers
  • in a children’s home or boarding school, or
  • with another adult the parents and Children’s Services know.

These changes also affect children in school, so we work to support their educational needs.

How does a child become 'looked after'?

There are two main routes:

  • Parents ask for help because their child can’t stay at home. Under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, we’ll find suitable accommodation for the child. The parent/guardian keeps their parental responsibility.
  • The child is at risk of harm. Under section 31 of the Children Act 1989, a court will make a care order. With a care order, the court gives parental responsibility to Children’s Services. This means they become a legal parent.

What happens?

First we assess the child and their situation. Then we agree a care plan and placement agreement with the family and child. These help us to:

  • support the child’s health, education and welfare
  • maintain contact with family and friends
  • plan living arrangements, including travel
  • plan for returning to the family home if possible