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Olivia Hindle 


Level 3 Health and Social Care

Children in Care



Family related reasoning#

Children and young people reasoning 

The Children Act 1989 -2004


When it comes to placing children and young people into care, a lot of people stereotype the scenarios and instantly presume that it because it is purely because the child is ‘naughty’ or ‘too much to handle’. Although this does happen, this is rarely the case. There are many other reason why children are placed into alternative care and most of them are to do with the setting/ environment rather than the child.

Although a lot people would just pin this down abuse and nothing else there are many other family related reasons to consider. For example bereavement or upheaval, this is where the child's parent/guardian has died so has to be put into care until a suitable home can be found, whether that be with a foster family, a relative or godparent. 

Parental incapacity is where a child’s parent or carer has a mental illness for example bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia etc.if a child’s parent or carer has a mental illness severe enough they could be a potential risk or harming either themselves or the child. In this case the child must be taken into care until the parent is either fit enough to look after the child or the child can be looked after by a family member etc.  

Family related issues 

Another reason a child to be placed into care is if a child's parent/ guardian is terminally ill or ill enough to be temporarily hospitalised. A lot of the time when this happens the child is placed in care until the parent is healthy enough to care for the child. However if the parent suffers with a terminal or chronic illness the child may be placed into permanent alternative care. However this does not mean that the child will not get to see their parent/guardian.

Suspected or actual maltreatment is when a child is taken into care as their parent/ guardian is not looking after them properly. This could be in many forms for example, neglecting the child, abuse, sexual abuse, drug abuse, verbal abuse etc. In this case the child will immediately be taken from the environment and put into an emergency care facility for their safety. If it is suspected maltreatment the child will still be put in emergency foster placement whilst the appropriate authorities work out and prove whether or not it is a safe environment for the child to go back to.

The other reasons children or young people are placed into care is child or young people related. This means that the parents can no longer take care of the child. This could be because the child has specific behavioural needs. However the behavioural needs may not be developed but the child may have been born with said condition. For example if the child is born with severe autism, this can have a serious impact on their behaviour. 

If a child has a disability and the parents/ guardians find it difficult to continue to care for the child than it may be an option for them. This ties in with if a child has learning difficulties and the parent just struggles to care for the child. However if the child has a physical disability e.g. inability to walk and therefore are in a wheelchair, adapting the home to care for the child’s needs can be quite expensive and some parents just don’t have the money. Also if the child has a physical or mental disability the parent or guardian may find the child would be in better hands in a health and social setting already adapted to that child's specific needs. 

The final reason why children are taken into care is if they break the law and are offenders. When this happens they are sent to a young offenders institute where they will be cared for. Despite what people think a young offenders institute is still classed as a care setting. Depending what they are in for, the majority of the young people or children who are in a young offenders institute get a lot of help and support to help them become ‘acceptable’ young people.

Child related reasons

Another reason is that the child may have learning difficulties and may need extra help and care. This does not necessarily mean that the parents no longer want to care for the child, more so that they cannot properly care and support the child. Sometimes parents place children in care for a couple days just to get a rest. However this does not mean they are bad parents,as taking care of a child everyday with learning difficulties can be extremely trying. 

A child can also be taken from their home if they have specific health problems. In this case the child would most likely be put into a hospital, hospice or orthopedic. In any of these care settings the child would be taken care of and their care would be directed towards their specific health problem. This is not always the child’s or parents fault if the child was born with the health problem then the best place for them is somewhere where the parents and child both know they will be appropriately taken care of.

What is the children's act? 

All of these vulnerable children or young people who have been placed into care are protected by ‘The Children's Act 1989’. Whether the reason be the child or parent  ‘The Children's Act’ was put into place to protect children and young people from harm and to make sure they are getting every opportunity in life. ‘The Children’s Act’ places duties on local authorities to consider the welfare of all the children in their area. If a child / young person does need to be taken by the local authorities they are known as ‘looked after’ children. There are two main routes into care for looked after children. This being section 20 and 31 of ‘The Children’s Act’.

Section 20 of ‘The Children’s Act 1989’ talks about if a parent / guardian dies. In which case the local authorities then have a duty to provide that child with a suitable living arrangement for the time being. However, in other circumstances section 20 mainly refers to children who are being ‘looked after’ but their parents still retain responsibility over them. Children can be accommodated if a parent gives their consent for them to be ‘looked after’. This way the parent still controls and has a say in what happens to that child. Section 20 applies in situations such as disability, parental incapacity, parental illness, learning difficulties or health problems.

Section 31 applies if a local authority believes that a child’s welfare is at risk they may be removed. If the parent the parent opposes this,or in circumstances where the parent is not capable and should no longer have parental responsibilities, the local authorities then take over parental responsibility. Section 31 applies in situations such as suspected or actual maltreatment or offences.

The Children's Act 1989 - 2004

"Care is a vital part of our child protection system. Most young people in care say that their experiences are good and that it was the right choice for them . But more needs to be done to ensure that all children in care are healthy and safe, have the same opportunities as their peers and can move successfully into adulthood."

"There are currently 94,000 children in care in the UK"

"Over 60% of children in care are looked after due to abuse and neglect"

"A small proportion of children in care experience further abuse and neglect whilst in care"

"Children in care are 4 times more likely than their peers to have a mental health difficulty"


"Children living in care are more likely to have problems with their mental health than children who aren't in care. And if we don't help children and young people early enough then these problems can get worse. If a placement breaks down it can have a detrimental impact on a child's emotional wellbeing and mental health. It can also mean increased costs to the system to find a new placement. And if a child's mental health grows worse they may need increasingly specialist placements."