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What Happens When a Child Goes into Care?

If you’re new to fostering and considering a career as a foster carer, you may be wondering what happens when a child goes into care, the reasons for a child going into care, and the process that takes place for a child or young person to end up in the care of a foster family. You may also be wondering what role an independent fostering agency (IFA) like Family Fostering Partners plays in ensuring looked after children are safeguarded and protected.

Reasons for a child going into care

There are many situations in which social services would take a child or young person under the age of 18 into care. For this to happen, there needs to be serious concerns about the wellbeing of the child. The welfare of a child is always put first in difficult situations and any decisions that are made are intended to safeguard the child.

Some of the most common reasons for a child going into care, and being removed from their birth parents include: 

Abuse - this includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse including any form of violence or bullying behaviour.

Neglect - this includes neglect of their basic care needs as well as other important needs such as educational, medical, or emotional.

Abandonment - this can include leaving a child alone for long periods of time as well as when parents completely abandon their child.

Other reasons for a child going into care can be if a parent is suffering from a physical or mental illness that incapacitates them and there is no one else to provide care for the child. In that case, fostering may provide a temporary solution. Other times, fostering can be an option if birth parents are incarcerated, and their children need care.  Reasons for a child going into care are often traumatic and upsetting for the children involved, they require specialist nurture and support from skilled foster parents.

What is a care order? 

Before a child is taken into care, social services will have done everything in their power to communicate with the birth family and offer support to the parents. Removing children from their family is always a last resort and occurs when there are no other viable options to keep the child safe.

In England and Wales a care order is made by the court under the Children Act (1989). This gives the Local Authority power to make decisions about the child's welfare including their accommodation and care providers.

What happens when a child goes into care without a care order?

In rarer cases, a child can be taken into care without a care order if the parents voluntarily choose to put their child into care. This may be the case if parents decide that they cannot or do not want to look after the child any longer or they feel it is in the child’s best interest.  Reasons for a child going into care are varied, but this is one of the less common reasons.

What happens when a child goes into care - Local authorities and IFAs

Initially, the child will be under the supervision of the Local Authority who will assess the child’s individual situation and determine what type of foster care will best suit their needs. The Local Authority will have its own group of approved foster carers and will first look to those to find a suitable placement for the child. However, the demand for foster homes often greatly outweighs the number of carers Local Authorities have available, or there’s a need for a very specific and specialist placement which the Local Authority cannot provide themselves. This is where IFAs like Family Fostering Partners step in.

We work with Local Authorities to help meet the constant demand for foster homes to ensure every child is guaranteed a safe and secure place to live. We work closely with Local Authorities to ensure the matches we make meet a child’s needs and allows them to flourish. What happens when a child goes into care will vary with each situation, but the child's wellbeing is at the forefront of every decision made. To read more about the role of a foster parent, and what happens when a child goes into care and the reasons for a child going into care, click here.

 The role of a foster parent

As a foster parent with Family Fostering Partners, our link workers will work closely with you to ensure the child/children who come to stay with you are a good match for your skills and personality.

It is your responsibility as a foster parent to provide a child or young person with a safe family home, as you would any child. The purpose of foster care is to provide stability, security, love, and support to a vulnerable child. You will be responsible for the child’s day to day needs, giving them the tools they need to grow and develop, be it for a short or long term placement.

Can you help? 

We hope our page has helped you to answer 'What happens when a child goes into care?' as well as the reasons for a chid going into care. If you’re interested in doing something amazing and helping vulnerable children and young people in your community, then we’d love to hear from you! To find out more about fostering or to discuss the reasons for a child going into care, please get in touch with us using the ‘Chat to Us’ feature in the bottom right hand corner.

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