Why children and young people may need to be looked after away from their families.
Children become looked after when their parents are unable to provide on-going care in either a temporary or permanent capacity.
The number of looked after children and young people has increased every year for the last decade – but the number who are looked after as a result of their own offending behaviour is small. Instead, the overwhelming majority are looked after for their own care and protection: o
Some have experienced neglect
Some have experienced mental, physical, sexual or emotional abuse. o
Some parents are unable to look after their children because of their own substance misuse or poor parenting skills. o
Some young people need a bit of time away from their birth family or community while a package of support is put in place to try to rebuild family relationships or their ability to function. o
Some have complex disabilities and need to be placed in specialist residential schools. o
Some have become involved in the youth justice system.
Last year almost 61,000 children and young people were looked after by local authorities in England. The majority of children and young people enter care after experiencing abuse or neglect or severe family problems. Early experiences have an impact on later health and wellbeing. While some children do well, statistics show that around 60% of looked after children and young people in England experience emotional problems and health problems. It is important that children and young people experience high quality care, not just while they are being looked after but also for some time after they have grown up and moved out. Children can be placed with family members, friends or foster carers depending on the situation they are in. The majority of young people in care come from families who experience difficulties. They are separated from their family because they are unable to provide the care that is needed. Vulnerable unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK will also become looked after if they are assessed as being younger than 18 and have no family members who can look after them, Looked after children are usually cared for by foster carers. Some children live in children’s homes and a few live in specialist homes. Sometimes extended family members will look after a child, which is often a preferable arrangement so they are not placed with strangers.
Children and young people with complex disabilities sometimes need to be looked after in specialist residential schools. Similarly, vulnerable unaccompanied minors seeking asylum and young people who have been illegally trafficked into the UK may also become looked after to ensure their wellbeing.
All children need protection from lots of different dangers. These could include:
Domestic Abuse – affects people from all social and economic backgrounds, regardless of age, religion or sex. It involves abuse between adult family members. It occurs when a person attempts to cause emotional, sexual or physical harm to an intimate partner or family member.
Physical Abuse – non-accidental physical injury as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting, burning or otherwise harming a child, which is given by a person who is responsible for the child.
Neglect – the failure of a parent, guardian or other caregiver for a child’s basic needs. Neglect may be: o
Physical (e.g. failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision). o
Medical (e.g. failure to provide necessary mental health treatment). o
Educational (e.g. failure to educate a child or attend to special educational needs). o
Emotional (e.g. inattention to a child’s emotional need’s, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or drugs).
Sexual Abuse – includes activities by a parent or caregiver, such as...
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