Who are children in need and looked after children?
When a child is referred to children’s social care, an assessment is carried out to identify if the child is in need of services, which local authorities have an obligation to provide under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 if:
- they are unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for them of services by a local authority
- their health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for them of such services
- they are disabled
This overall group of children in need has three commonly referred subgroups of children:
- Children looked after (CLA) – legally defined under the Children Act 1989 as children who are provided with accommodation for a continuous period for more than 24 hours, subject to a care order; or subject to a placement order.
- Child Protection Plans (CPP) – plans put in place to ensure a child’s safety and support the family where social workers have reasonable suspicion that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm.
- Child in Need and other Plans (CINP) –plans including family support (to help keep together families experiencing difficulties), leaving care support (to help young people who have left local authority care), adoption support or disabled children’s services (including social care, education and health provision).