15.17 Safeguarding Looked After Children (children in care)

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This policy was last reviewed in October 2022

Date of next review October 2024



Section 47 Enquiry


If there is reasonable cause to suspect a Looked After child is suffering, has suffered or is likely to suffer Significant Harm, Children's Social Care should convene a Strategy Discussion, see Strategy Discussions 

The need for a strategy discussion applies equally to looked after children and it should not be assumed that the child is safe because they are in care, or to assume that other existing procedures will effectively take the place of established child protection multi-agency working.  To do so poses a risk.

Reviews, Care Planning and Conferences


In most cases where a child has a Child Protection Plan and becomes Looked After, it will no longer be necessary to maintain the Child Protection Plan - see Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan.


There are however relatively few situations where safeguarding issues will remain and a Looked After child will also have a Child Protection Plan. These situations are likely to be where a local authority obtains an Interim Care Order but the child with a Child Protection Plan remains at home, pending the outcome of the final hearing; or where the child's behaviour is likely to result in Significant Harm to themselves or others.


Where a Looked After child remains on a Child Protection Plan, consideration should be given to how best to ensure that the child protection aspects of the child's Care Plan are reviewed.


Looked After Reviews and Child Protection Conferences may be held as combined meetings in order to ensure a coherent plan. Looked After Reviews can go by another name, depending on the part of the county you are working in, in some areas this is called Me and My World.

The plans made at Looked After Reviews must be consistent with the Child Protection Plan. This will ideally be achieved by the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) who chairs the Looked After Review process also chairing the Review Conference. Where this is not possible the IRO should be involved in the Review Conference and the timing of both processes should coincide to ensure that the most up-to-date information informs overall care planning.


Where a Looked After Review or other local authority planning meeting proposes the return of a child on a Child Protection Plan to their parents or carers - or any other change which might significantly affect the level of risk - the decision (unless this formed part of the original protection plan) must not be implemented until reviewed and endorsed by the child’s IRO as part of a combined Looked After Review and Review Conference.


Where there is disagreement within the subsequent Child Protection Conference concerning a Looked After Child, the child’s IRO must be informed immediately and a decision made on whether or not to proceed with the plan made at the child in care review. The social worker should also bring the matter to the attention of their operational service manager. Professionals should always attempt to resolve differences at the lowest possible level. Where necessary, the child’s IRO will consider activating the dispute resolution process (IRO Handbook).


Where a child on a Child Protection Plan is removed from accommodation by parents or where a child in care is returned to parents or carers in court proceedings, against the recommendation of the local authority, a Review Child Protection Conference must be convened to consider the risks to the child and the implications for the Child Protection Plan.


The child’s IRO should be notified immediately of any significant events or proposed change impacting on the agreed care plan. The IRO must be consulted before any decision is reached to change the child’s care plan.  In the IRO’s absence, the IRO manager must be consulted.

Discontinuing Child Protection Plans


When a Looked After child is no longer living in the situation which gave rise to the child protection concerns that resulted in the Child Protection Plan, and there is no current plan for them to be returned, the Child Protection Plan should be discontinued by the decision of the Review Conference. This would automatically apply if the child is on a full Care Order.


Should the Care Plan for a Looked After Child subsequently include returning the child to the situation that previously resulted in the Child Protection Plan, a Looked After Review chaired by the child’s IRO should be convened. Consideration should be given to the child’s safeguarding needs and type of plan required. Active consideration should be given to a Family Group Conference.


Promoting well-being and positive identity


NICE has a guide for social workers and social care practitioners to help support the wellbeing of children and young people in care. The guide explains that a focus on wellbeing can improve outcomes and discusses building positive relationships, working through a child’s personal history and incorporating trauma-informed training for practitioners. 

Read the guide: Promoting wellbeing and positive identity for a child or young person who is looked after


Record keeping in realtion to looked after children is very important, case recording is the child's story of what happend and why. Further support with case recording can be read in  Underlying Policy, Principles and Values under the section on Case Recording. 


Children from black and minority ethnic backgrounds in care

In the UK there is overrepresentation of children from black and minority ethnic backgrounds in care but there is a lack of evidence on their outcomes, particularly around reunification, placement stability and health and exclusions. This report  Outcomes for Black Children in Care: A rapid evidence review synthesis - What Works for Children's Social Care (whatworks-csc.org.uk) presents the findings of a Rapid Review of the body of work focussing on outcomes of Black children in care

The intersections of being Black and having experiences of being in care are also explored in the Barnardo’s report - Black care-experienced young people in the criminal justice system | Barnardo's (barnardos.org.uk)

The needs of foster children from black and minority ethic backgrounds are explore more in this review by Social Care Institute for Excellence Fostering - The needs of foster children from black and minority ethnic backgrounds (scie.org.uk)

Pre-birth Planning for Care Leavers

Criminalisation of looked-after children

Please see - The Sussex Joint Protocol to Reduce the Criminalisation of Children in Care and Care leavers 

There is also a National protocol on reducing criminalisation of looked-after children available.


This page is correct as printed on Sunday 23rd of June 2024 12:26:11 AM please refer back to this website (http://sussexchildprotection.procedures.org.uk) for updates.