Looked After Children

A child is called ‘looked after’ when they are in the care of the local authority

Most children and young people in Bournemouth enjoy happy and successful lives living within their own families.

If families experience particular problems or stress, they can call upon a wide variety of additional support, offered by a range of agencies, to help keep the family living and working together 

Why do children become 'looked after'?

Some children may be at risk of harm or they may have significant additional needs that cannot be met through early help and community services alone.

At such times the Children's Social Care Service will assess the child's situation and ensure services are in place to support the family and safeguard the child if needed. This will include helping the family to look at their own extended family members who may help.

For some children and young people though, this might not be enough to ensure their safety and well-being so, either through agreement with their parents, or through court proceedings, these children might come to be cared for by the local authority.

The aim will always be to try to recover the situation with the family so that the child can go home or live with someone else in their family where ever possible.

How children become ‘looked after’

Children come into our care by two main routes – because the parents have asked for this help or because the child is at risk of significant harm and that risk cannot be reduced. 

Where parents have asked for our help - Under section 20 of the Children Act 1989

We will find suitable accommodation for the child when, for some reason, the child can no longer stay at home. Parental responsibility remains with the parent or guardian. A child can request to be accommodated over the age of 16 via the Southwark judgment (May 2009).

If the child is at risk of significant harm? - Under section 31 of the Children Act 1989

In a situation where the child is in danger, the court will issue a care order. The court will take all the circumstances into careful consideration before doing this. When a care order is made, children's services acquire parental responsibility and become a legal parent alongside the parent or guardian.

Who looks after the children

Extended family members and Foster carers for most of these young people. Some children live in Children's Homes and a few live in specialist children's homes.

If you have made a private arrangement (without the involvement of the local authority) to care for someone else's child or your child has moved to live with someone else you must let us know; there are special rules. There is more information in our section on private fostering.

The Promise

The Promise is Bournemouth’s pledge to children in care, ‘Looked After Children’. A pledge sets out the care that looked after children can expect and receive from their corporate parent