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Reasons for a child to be taken into care

There are numerous reasons why children can be taken into care. This could stem from physical or emotional abuse, neglect or even abandonment. Find out the main reasons for foster care, and what happens when a child is taken into care now.

How do children end up in foster care?


  • Physical abuse – this is one of the most common reasons for a child to be taken into care. Usually, this is discovered when bruising is evident on the child, or there is evidence to suggest that the child is being restrained in a violent or dangerous way such as being locked in a closet, or generally hurt in a physical way.
  • Emotional abuse – harder to prove, but equally as common, emotional abuse can come in the forms of shouting, calling names, belittling, bullying and making the child feel unwanted and/or unsafe.
  • Sexual abuse – children who are abused sexually are often persuaded to partake in sexual acts, or often against their own will. Find out more information on sexual abuse and sexual violence

Another common form of abuse is substance abuse. If the parents or guardians suffer from a drug addiction or alcoholism, they are unfit to take care of a child – and, if they cannot seek help and address their addiction in a way that keeps the child safe, the child will likely be taken into care.


Neglect can come in many forms – and if a child is proven to be neglected, this can lead to them being placed in the care system. Examples of neglect could include:

  • Emotional neglect – although this is difficult to prove, it would often come as a symptom of physical or emotional abuse.
  • Basic needs – this would include neglecting the child of their basic human needs – for example, food and water, or a clean living-environment.
  • Medical neglect – such as not seeking needed medical attention. This could be due to religious beliefs or general carelessness.


If parents or guardians have been sentenced to jail, and there is nobody who can look after them in the meantime of them finishing their sentence, they will likely be put into care.


Whether this is dropping children off at a babysitter’s and never returning, or leaving the children at home alone for an extended period of time – abandonment will lead to children entering the care system.


Physical or mental illness of the parents or caregivers can lead to them not being able to look after their child – and either temporary or permanent foster care may be required.


In the case of the parents or guardians dying, and there isn’t an appropriate adult to look after the child, this would then lead to the child being placed into care.

Putting your child into care

On rare occasions, reasons for foster care could be voluntarily putting your child into care. This could be due to a wide range of reasons – potentially including some of the above – but mainly due to the issue that the parents cannot, or do not, want to look after the child any longer.

There’s also a difference between children being put into foster care due to circumstances at home they cannot control, and circumstances which they can. For example, there are some instances where foster children may need to be put into care due to their own actions, if their parents of guardians cannot take care of them or control their behaviour:

  • Truancy – if children are continually skipping school, and the parents are unable to change this behaviour pattern.
  • Runaways – if the child is creating a habit of running away, and creating dangerous situations for themselves on a regular basis.
  • Juvenile offender – if the child has had issues with law enforcement, and has been adjudicated as a juvenile offender.

What happens when a child is taken into care?

When a child is placed into care, a local authority is called in to assess the child’s situation and determine the category of need for foster care. The purpose of this foster care is to ensure the child is provided with a substantial substitute home where they can be substantially taken care of. It’s not uncommon for some foster parents to stay in the lives of their foster children until they have aged out of the system – as their previous home and family life may never be suitable for them again.

Now you’ve learnt why children are placed in foster care, and the reasons for foster care, learn more about becoming a foster carer today. Alternatively, for more information or advice, get in touch with any of our experts at Capstone Foster Care today.

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