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Reasons why children go into care

Chloe Sedgwick

The purpose of this information is to raise awareness of why children and young people are in care and how this may affect their concentration or contribution in school/college. It also includes why tutors should be wary of the concerns of those in care so they can support them. This also covers The Children Act 1989/2004 of sections 20 and 31, including child related reasons and family related reasons and the routes into care.

This leaflet has been put together to bring tutors to the attention that children may be misbehaving in school environment possibly due to being in care and to give the reasons as to why children may be in care and those affects.

Case study: Sarah, aged 17 has global developmental delay and so she isn't developing at the right stage for her age. This means she requires a lot of support for day to day tasks. She attends a respite home for two days a week. She visits this because there has been times where she has assaulted her family members and has even put her brother in hospital, from this it has been agreed that she is put into a children's home.

Classroom activity 26th September 


This could affect the child in the school environment because they could suffer mental health problems such as PTSD or other mental health problems or a developed attachment disorder that becomes a barrier for a child’s learning.

Reasons why children and young people may need to be looked after away from their families could be due to reasons such as a child may be neglected or maltreated and therefore must be accommodated for by the local authority who has parental responsibility over the child/young person. Following section 31 of The Children Act 1989/2004, there must be serious circumstances where local authorities must use the procedures in place to place the child in care away from their family to insure the safety and welfare of that child. For example, the parent may be suffering from a mental or physical health problem which may affect or cause harm to the child, therefore must be taken away. 


Section 31 of the Children Act 1989/2004 and family related issues

Section 31 is the procedure in which the child is taken away from the parents due to the local authorities believing they are not capable of looking after the child, this could be due to reasons that affect the child with family related issues such as maltreatment, bereavement, parent/carer health issues such as mental health or physical health disabilities that may put the child at risk of harm caused by the parent. 

If these situations occur then the local authorities must place the child in care and hand parental responsibility over to social services.

There could be other family issues such as neglect or favouritism - sibling could be being treated nicer than the child and so they feel worthless and act out within the school environment. This is why it is important that the tutors offer support if it is needed. Tutors could also refer the pupil to student support so that personal issues and school work are separate, this however does not mean the tutor should ignore the in class support that that child may need.

Section 20 would need to be enforced when a child's parent has died - this means the child will need to be looked after, however the parental responsibility was not taken away from the parent.

In other cases the child may be dealing with issues such as having a disability. For example, children may be misbehaving because of additional needs or behavioural needs such as ADHD. In cases where the parent cannot look after the child because the child with ADHD is behaving uncontrollably and may even be assaulting family members, Section 20 will be used so that both the child and parent isn't put in any danger. The child will be placed in care temporarily or permanently but the parent will still have parental responsibility over the child; meaning they can have a say in what happens to the child. 

A child may be misbehaving as they may not understand why they are being put into care. They may feel worthless or lonely due to this because they could need additional support but struggles to search for it; may need more emotional support from their parents but instead feels a sense of neglect emotionally.

Section 20 and child related issues

Tutors should identify these additional needs by acknowledge strengths and weaknesses and finding ways to help the student focus and stay on track.

The family home 

Foster Care

The routes into care 

The routes into care may be proceeding to family court, after a meeting which discusses ways in which the child can be cared for, if additional support cannot be met then the child's future care plan will be produced. 

Their plan of care will include how to promote the health of the child, education and their level of contact with the family; may affect the child's potential in school due to lack of concentration. Voluntary accommodation may be needed temporarily if the parent is ill or is unable to care for them for a period of time. 

Residential care home 

Adoption agencies 


To conclude, often it isn’t the child’s fault that they are in care or misbehaving as that’s how they express their feelings and can indicate that they need help, this suggests that you as a tutor must be prepared to help them at any occasion. Also, in cases where children have additional needs such as Autism the tutor must be willing to alter their way of teaching so that the child is able to work comfortably and equally as effect as the other children in the class.