North East London Health & Care Partnership logo

Who is a looked after child?

Happy young girl with Down's Syndrome in a library

Defined under the Children Act 1989 in England and Wales:

  • A child is looked after by the local authority if he or she is provided with accommodation for more than 24 hours by the authority. (this may be voluntary with the agreement of parents, a court ordered Care Order to the Local Authority, or on remand). 
  • Looked after children also include unaccompanied asylum seekers (UASC).
  • Children in friends and family placement (connected person)
  • Those awaiting adoption.
  • A child ceases to be looked after when they are adopted, return home, without a care order in place or turn 18 years of age.

Further statutory guidance; (2015) sets out the joint working responsibilities of NHS organisations, in partnership with key agencies to improve health outcomes and the wellbeing of Looked-after Children.

If you are worried that a child is at risk of serious harm and that they are being abused or neglected, contact the local council

Types of placements

  • Most children in care will be living with foster carers or in children’s homes.  
  • Some children in care will be placed in neighbouring boroughs or placed elsewhere in the country
  • Others will be in adoptive placements until an Adoption Order is granted by the Court
  • Kinship care is when a child lives live with family members or extended family or the possibility of being adopted.
  • Other young people will be living in semi-independent accommodation

Corporate parents  

Corporate parenting refers to the shared responsibility across the local authority and council to ensure that children and young people in our care or leaving care are supported to thrive.

Social Worker 

All children in care have an allocated Social Worker, regardless of where their placement is.  

The Children and Young People in Care Review 

A Children and Young People in Care review is a meeting with all those that are concerned with your care and care plan. 

At this meeting Children’s Services will look at how things are going, whether your care plan meets your needs and whether there need to be any changes for the future. The meeting will be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) who is an experienced social worker and independent of children’s services. 


Children in care, often have worse health than their peers, because of this regular health assessments and care plans are offered. 

  • Initial Health Assessment (20 working days within coming into care) with a paediatric doctor. 
  • Review Health Assessment (every 6 months for babies and children in care under 5 years old) and annually for children in care 5-17 years old with a Specialist Nurse. 
  • All children in care should be fully registered with a local GP, dentist and optician services 
  • All children in care should be fully immunised.

Leave feedback about this page

If you would like to leave feedback about how useful you found the content on this page, please complete the form below.