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Looked After Children
Children who are the subjects of care proceedings and who are accommodated voluntarily are referred to as ‘looked after’ children (unless they are accommodated under the provisions of s.17 Children Act 1989). There is a distinction between children who are the subject of care orders (where the local authority acquires parental responsibility, which is shared with the parents), and children who are voluntarily accommodated, whose parents will retain sole parental responsibility.
The local authority has an obligation to make plans for the child as soon as possible on accommodation and in so doing it must take into account the child’s welfare, health needs, education, contact with the family and eventual return home. The local authority is expected to find an education placement for a looked after child within 20 days. Parents and the child must be consulted in relation to any decisions, which are made about the child. Plans for children who are looked after must be recorded in writing and reviewed initially after four weeks, then after three months and thereafter every six months.
Where a child or parent is not happy with the care plan or with changes in the care plan they can make a formal complaint to social services. A looked after child should also have a personal education plan, which is attached to the care plan.