A child who has been in the care of their local authority for more than 24 hours is known as a looked-after child.
Looked-after children are also often referred to as children in care, a term which many children and young people prefer.
In general, looked-after children live:
- with foster parents
- in a residential children's home
- in residential settings like schools or secure units
There are several reasons why children and young people enter care:
- The child’s parents might have agreed to this – for example, if they are too unwell to look after their child or if their child has a disability and needs respite care.
- The child could be an unaccompanied asylum seeker, with no responsible adult to care for them.
- Children's services may have intervened because they felt the child was at significant risk of harm. If this is the case, the child is usually the subject of a court-made legal order.