Looked after Children (LAC)

The term ‘looked after’ refers to children who are under 18 and have been provided with care and accommodation by children’s services. Often this will be with foster carers, but some looked after children might stay in a children’s residential homes or with another adult known to the parents and children’s services.

Why do children become 'looked after'?

A large number of children in care will have a history of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Some may have suffered the death of a parent, or have parents who can’t look after them properly because of illness. Others may have disabilities and many different needs. A very small number are in care because of crimes they have committed.

How does a child become 'looked after'?

Children come into care by two main routes – because the parents have asked for this help or because the child is in danger of being harmed.

• Under section 20 of the Children Act 1989: where parents have asked for our help, because for some reason their child can no longer stay at home. Parental responsibility remains with the parent/guardian.
• Under section 31 of the Children Act 1989: if the child is in danger of being harmed, a care order will be made by a court (or an interim care order). When a care order is made, children’s services acquire parental responsibility and become a legal parent alongside the parent/guardian.
• Looked after Children may be placed by an external authority within Lincolnshire. The external authority maintains responsibility despite the child living in Lincolnshire.

Key Documents:

Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Looked after Children (DH 2015) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/413368/Promoting_the_health_and_well-being_of_looked-after_children.pdf

Looked after children: Knowledge, skills and competences of health care staff (RCPCH 2015) describes the competency requirements of health practitioners undertaking the statutory initial and review health assessments.

Children in Care in England:Statistics (House of Commons Library 2015)