According to the report from the Department for Education on Children looked after in England for the year ending 31 March 2016, the number of looked after children continues to increase. At the end of March 2016, there was an increase of 1% over the previous year and 5% compared to 2012. Of the total of 70,440 looked after children at 31 March 2016, 51,850 (74%) were cared for in a foster placement.
There is a change in the ages of children in care. There is an increase in the number and proportion of older children — 62% of children looked after were 10 years old and over in 2016. In 2012, 56% of the children in care were 10 and older. Meanwhile, the percentage of looked after children aged 1-4 years dropped from 18% in 2012 to 13% in 2016. The number of infants under 1 year dropped from 6% in 2012 to 5% in 2016.
It is important to know how the law works regarding taking children into care. Looked after children in the UK are dealt with under the Children Act 1989. These regulations specify the steps that the court takes when there is reason to believe that a child is in danger. If the level of risk is high, the court may step in and begin care proceedings at once.
Otherwise, all efforts are made to keep children in their family homes. The process begins with a letter before proceedings being sent to the parents, inviting them to come with their lawyer to attend a pre-proceedings meeting with the local authority to discuss what the parents can do to better look after the child. The local authority explains the support and help it can provide to facilitate the parents keeping the child in the family home.
If a plan can be worked out, a formal agreement is drawn up and the parents and the local authority agree to follow this plan. If the parents won’t agree to the changes, or if they do agree and then don’t follow the agreement, local authorities can ask the court to take the child into care.
If the court agrees with the local authority that the child should be taken into care, the court makes the order, which gives the local authority parental responsibility and the local authority then becomes responsible for the health, wellbeing, guidance, and education of the child or young person.
Local authority accommodation arrangements are provided either by the LA’s own registered foster carers or by an independent fostering agency such as Capstone Foster Care which recruits, assesses, and trains its own team of registered foster carers.
Children’s protection involves having them placed in a secure social setting where their needs are met, where they feel safe and loved, where they are provided with all that they need for positive outcomes in their lives.
Contact Capstone Foster Care to find out how you can become involved in fostering.
For more information about becoming a foster carer, contact us on 0800 012 4004 or simply click here.