The Children Act 1989 sets out lots of rights that Children in Care have, it is the main piece of law that has been passed by Parliament which talks about Children in Care. It has been updated several times, especially in the past 13 years. One of the most important things that the Children Act says is that the wishes and feelings of children and young people must be taken into account when lots of decisions are being made.

Providing Accommodation (section 20)

Sometimes professionals call this 'section 20' it's like a shortened version.

It says Local Authorities have to give accommodation for children who need it when:

  • there is no-one with parental responsibility for them
  • or they are lost
  • or the person caring for them isn't able to give them a home (this might be temporary or permanent).
  • or the Local Authority thinks that giving the young person somewhere else to live would protect their safety or well-being.

The Local Authority needs to try to find out your wishes and feelings about any of this and to take them into account.

The accommodation should, where possible:

  • be within the area (of your Local Authority - so Leicestershire)
  • meet your needs

Care Orders

The Court can put a child into the care of a local authority if they are satisfied that:

  • the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, and
  • the harm (or likely harm) would be because the care the child would get without the order wouldn't be what it's reasonable to expect a parent to give, or
  • the child is can't be controlled by their parents.
This is in section 31 of the Children Act, and so sometimes children in care are described as being 'subject to a full care order' or 'section 31' which means that the Local Authority has parental responsibility. Parents still keep parental responsibility too, but the Local Authority can limit this if they think it's best for the child.

General Duties of the Local Authority to CiC

The Local Authority has to:

  • Safeguard and promote the welfare of children in care
    • this includes to promote educational achievement
  • Get your wishes and feelings, where possible, before any decision about you is made.
    • They also need to ask anyone with parental responsibility for you and anyone else who seems relevant, where they can.
  • When making a decision take a lot of things into account
    • your wishes and feelings (taking into account your age and understanding)
    • your religion, race, culture and language.
  • Advise, assist and befriend care leavers to help with their well-being
  • Give advice and assistance to qualifying care leavers.
  • Provide a home for all children in care, either in a children's home (and there are regulations - extra rules about this) or help them to be at home with their family or friends or another family (foster care).

Child Protection

If a local authority has good reason to think that a child living (or found) in their area is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, then they have to investigate to find out if they need to do anything to protect the child and keep them safe.

This is sometimes called a section 47 investigation because this is where it's found in the Children Act.

If the Local Authority think that the child is in extreme danger they can remove a child from their home (where they're in danger) and get an Emergency Protection Order, which is what it says, an order made by the court to protect children in an emergency.

In all of this the Local Authority has to, as much as possible, ask what the child thinks and get their wishes and feelings and pay attention to them.