Looked After Children's Manual - Introduction
This manual is for all child care practitioners. Its aim is to provide quick access to the appropriate procedures and guidance relating to the ‘Looked after Child’ Processes.
It is a child’s right to live with their parents unless it is not in their best interests. The Local Authority has a duty to support parents, or others holding parental rights, in order that a child may live safely with their families 1. If this is not possible, a child may become ‘Looked After’.
Looked After Children include those :
- At home, subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order
- In Formal Kinship placements
- In foster care
- In residential care
- Being placed for Adoption
The Local Authority has a range of statutory duties to children looked after by them. They must :
- safeguard and promote the child's welfare, taking the welfare of the child as their paramount concern
- make use of services that would be available for children were they cared for by their parents
- take steps to promote regular and direct contact between a child who is looked after and any person with parental responsibilities, so far as is practicable, appropriate and consistent with the duty to safeguard the child's welfare
- provide advice and assistance with a view to the time when the child is no longer looked after
- find out and have regard to the views of the child, his parents and any other relevant person, so far as is practicable when making decisions about a child whom they look after
- take account so far as is practicable of the child's religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background.
Authorities may deviate from these duties only when it is necessary to protect members of the public from serious harm, and then only to the extent required to achieve such protection for the public.
At all times, the Local Authority, and any agency acting on their behalf, must act transparently and be accountable for their decisions and actions, remembering
- The child is at the centre and is an individual in their own right
- It is a child’s right to have a family life and to enjoy family life
- All adults, involved in making decisions which affect a child, have a duty to find out and take account of the child’s views and wishes
- Parents are legally responsible for their children, and all agencies should work in partnership with them unless this responsibility has been legally removed from them.
- We must support parents to change in order that they can meet their child’s needs
- All children need permanence
- We have a duty to minimise the need for compulsory measures by supporting a child’s needs to be met at home by their family or by replacing the compulsory measures by a more secure permanent legal order.
Further context and guiding principles can be found by following these links: