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Virtual School governor and designated teacher training

Who is a ‘looked-after’ child?

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.