Legal Framework - Being Aware Care

This section outlines the legal framework that supports children who are now being cared for or who have previously been in care and the corporate family's obligations, including designated teachers, virtual schools, foster parents, and social workers.

Kids play with car toys
Photo by BBC Creative on Unsplash

Why Do Children Enter Foster Care?

At the end of March 2018, local authorities in England had custody of around 75,420 youngsters. Children may require foster care for a variety of reasons. A few examples are family illnesses, family strife, domestic issues, and dangers to their well-being. In England and Wales, more than half of the children who are looked after were victims of abuse or neglect. Each kid will have experienced grief and separation from their biological family, even though every child's narrative will be unique. Most children in foster care—roughly 70%—have special educational needs.

National Statistics - Children Looked After including Adoption 2017-2018

Why Do They Require Top-notch Assistance And Facilities at School?

Many children who are or have been in foster care have encountered highly challenging family situations, which can cause disruptions in their academic performance and lengthy absences. Many people require special education. Many experience the negative impacts of trauma, bereavement, and neglect on their emotional, psychological, and social wellness, making it harder for them to develop trustworthy connections with adults and peers. Many have frequently changed schools and transferred between foster care situations.

High ambitions, rigorous evaluation and planning, an emotionally healthy learning environment, and high-quality teaching, learning all lead to better well-being and achievement and, therefore, long-term beneficial results. The Designated Teacher's job is to advocate for the needs of children who are or have been in foster care and to take the lead in fostering their academic success with the help of the school governing body and applicable Virtual Schools.

Term Clarification

For the purposes of this toolkit, the phrase "Children Looked After" (CLA) refers to children and young people under the age of 18 who are looked after by the local authority, either because they are on a care order or they are accommodated through a voluntary arrangement with their parents. The words Looked After Children, Children Looked After (CLA), and Children in Care are all used interchangeably; however, LAC is not used.

Child in Care And Child Looked After Definition

Children Looked After are those who get housing from a local authority constantly for 24 hours or longer.

There are legal distinctions between a child in care, and a Child Looked After. A care order, an emergency protection order, or compulsorily providing accommodations are all options for children in care. All of these groups, as well as those who willingly accept accommodations, are referred to as "Children Looked After" (with the agreement of the parent, relative or young person themselves).

There Are Five Primary Categories of Children Looked After

  1. Children who are taken care of by Children's Services under Section 20 when one or both parents are unable to do so. This needs to be done with the parent(s)' approval or, if the child is older than 16, with their own consent (section 20, Children Act 1989).
  2. Children who are the targets of a Care Order or interim (temporary) Care Order (section 31 of the Children Act of 1989) (section 38, Children act 1989).
  3. Children who are the targets of urgent protective directives (section 44 and 46, Children Act 1989).
  4. Children who are required to attend juvenile court through the criminal justice system. This includes minors who have been committed to Children's Services or who are under the supervision of a criminal justice order with a residency requirement. (Children and Young Persons Act of 1969, Section 21).
  5. Unaccompanied minors seeking asylum (UASC) are those who enter the nation under the age of 18 without a parent or legal guardian. Many of these kids will become foster children and be placed in Children's Services' care. Per section 20 of the Children Act of 1989, participation shall be optional.

Read more: The Children Act 1989 Court Orders, amended 2014

Previously Looked After Child Definition

A child who was previously looked after is one who is no longer looked after in England and Wales due to an adoption, special guardianship, child arrangements order, or adoption from "state care" outside of England and Wales. These orders may include provisions regarding the child's living arrangements and who the child is to live with.

What Are the Local Government's Obligations in Relation to Looked-after Children?

According to the Children Act of 1989, local authorities are responsible for protecting and advancing the welfare of Children Looked After. On the day when a child is placed in foster care, the Local Authority shares parenting responsibilities with the birth parents and occasionally has the power to impose restrictions on or overrule birth parents' decisions. We provide in the following section more information about parental responsibility. The Virtual School Head (VSH), who the Local Authority must appoint, is responsible for enhancing the educational outcomes and experiences of the authority's CLA, regardless of where they reside or get their education. The necessary parties and organizations in charge of Children Looked After are:

The Local Government's Responsibilities to Looked After Children

Children's Services must do the following for all children in their care:

Care Plan

A documented Care Plan is required for every child in care. Within 14 days of a child entering care and within 10 days for the first placement for a child who is willingly being accommodated, a care plan and placement agreement must be created—the Local Authority drafts and reviews the care plan.

The Plan

The Care Plan and the placement agreement should be created with input from the Foster Carers, the child, and the child's parents/guardians (if applicable). In addition, every kid must have a Personal Education Plan as part of the Care Plan (PEP).

Plan of Placement

This document outlines a kid's daily care plans that adhere to the Care Plan's goals. In addition, it contains information about the delegated authority (see section 1.7). A young person's care plan changes into their pathway plan to independence when they become 16 years old. Plans for additional/higher education, training, and employment will be covered in depth.

Statutory Reviews

What Are the Roles And Responsibilities of the Virtual School Head?

See also our section on Pupil Premium Plus and Support from Virtual School.

The Virtual School Head (VSH) is the person responsible for carrying out the local government's duty to promote the educational achievement of all CLCs located in the local government, regardless of whether they live or are currently where to study (Children and Families Act 2014 amends the Children Act 1989). The head of the virtual school is responsible for the children in the care of his local government. Children placed outside the school district remain the responsibility of the municipality. Virtual principals also aim to promote the academic success of formerly cared-for children in their area by providing information and guidance to those with parental responsibilities for looked after children and the teachers assigned to work with them.

VSH's Guarantee

Services And Assistance

Virtual schools for various local authorities provide a variety of services and assistance, such as:

Read more

What Are a Designated Teacher's Duties And Responsibilities?

The designated teacher (DT) in a school is in charge of encouraging the academic success of looked after and previously looked after children. The DT is in charge of assisting school personnel in determining what kind of support this cohort may require in order to learn and succeed. The roles of the designated teacher:

The Designated Teacher should be a certified teacher who has undergone an adequate induction period and is currently working in the school as a teacher. In order to fulfill their function, the governing board must guarantee that school leadership provides them with enough assistance. They are entitled to training and development to react to the special teaching, and learning needs of looked after and formerly looked after children and to enhance the understanding of everyone in the school who is likely to be engaged in enabling this cohort to achieve.

The DT should be a member of the teaching staff with the necessary seniority, professional experience, and position to give leadership, training, information, and guidance to others in order to affect the teaching and learning of looked after and formerly looked after children.

The role of the DT in Personal Education Plans is discussed in our sections on Effective PEPs.

Read more: DfE (Feb 2018) The role and responsibilities of the designated teacher for looked after and previously looked after children

What Are Foster Cares' Roles And Responsibilities?

The Foster Carer is responsible for the child's day-to-day care. Foster Caregivers are in charge of the child's physical and emotional requirements, as well as ensuring that they attend the right school, college, or playgroup and that their health needs are satisfied. The degree of responsibility will vary depending on the length of time the kid is put with the caregiver, the age of the child, the amount of experience of the Foster Carer, and the level of involvement of the parent in the child's life. Foster parents have a significant role as the children in their care's "first educators."

The Fostering Service Regulations (2002) and National Minimum Standards govern foster care (2002). A typical foster placement agreement contains the following expectations: support the child's/young person's welfare and treat them as a cherished family member

Expectations of Foster Caregivers

Foster caregivers are also anticipated to:

Expectations of Foster Carers

With particular reference to education, Foster Carers are supposed to:

Read more:
Fostering Network (2009) Foster care placement: regulations and guidance.

Allocated Social Workers

Every child in care is assigned a social worker. On the day when a child is placed in care, the social worker assumes parental responsibility on behalf of the local authorities (see section 1.7). This involves ensuring that the child's needs are satisfied, their welfare is protected, and they are encouraged to reach their full potential.

Social workers are legally obligated to ensure that the kid receives enough emotional and physical care. This includes:

The child's social worker will regularly visit the child and foster caregivers to fulfill these tasks. Legally, the social worker must see the kid within one week after placement and then every six weeks for the first year. Following that, social work visits should not be more than three months apart. Foster caregivers might also seek more visits.

A care plan is put in place by the social worker. This care plan must include information regarding the child's educational requirements and the activities required to address those needs. This is usually in the form of a Personal Education Plan, which stays in effect during the child's care. Section 2.4 discusses PEPs and how to make them work.

Supervising Social Workers

A social worker supervises each foster carer. These are also referred to as family placement workers or connection workers. Supervising social workers are in charge of managing their fostering service's fostering resources. They support and challenge foster caregivers, and their tasks and responsibilities include the following:

The Fostering Network recommends that monitoring sessions be held once a month.

Read more:

The Fostering Network (2009) Working with social workers: information for foster carers.

Understanding Parental Responsibility And Delegated Authority

Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility, which is defined in Section 3 of the Children Act 1989, says

“All the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which, by law, a parent of a child has in relation to a child and his/her property. “

This implies that a person with parental duty is accountable for the child's care and well-being, and that person, as well as anybody else with parental responsibility, can make crucial choices regarding the child's life until a court ruling states otherwise.

Local Authorities share parental responsibility with the birth parents for children in care under a Care Order, Interim Care Order, or Emergency Protection Order. The local government may limit the parent's ability to exercise parental responsibility and veto specific parental decisions if required.

If a kid is subject to a Care Order, his or her parents or guardians are not permitted to remove the child from care unless the local government agrees. A kid's parents or guardians and the child himself or herself have the right to petition the court to terminate a Care Order. All Care Orders expire when a child reaches the age of 18, however, some may be terminated earlier.

Delegated Authority

When a Local Authority has parental responsibility for a child in care, the child's social worker takes on that role and makes choices for the kid. However, the LA may arrange for the Foster Carer to take over part of their tasks. This is known as 'delegating authority.'

Many foster children and young people have voiced a desire to grow up in 'regular' households, free of the laws and bureaucracy that limit their options, cause unnecessary delays, and make them feel different from their peers. The Children Act of 1989 was revised in 2013 to tighten and clarify the legislative guidelines on delegated authority, and it defines three sorts of decisions:

1. Day-to-day Parenting

Such as health, education, and leisure decisions (including permission slips for school trips and activities).

Unless there is a compelling reason not to, all day-to-day decision-making should be outsourced to the child's caregiver (and/or the child if they can make these decisions for themselves). Exceptions and justifications should be included in the placement plan where day-to-day choices are not entrusted to the caregiver. There is no expectation that local governments should replicate risk assessments if risk assessments have been routinely performed by organizations organizing/supervising the activity, such as school excursions or vacations.

2. Routine But Long-term Decisions, Such as School Selection

The decision of which school to attend is preferably collaborative and will be determined by the child's long-term plans. If long-term foster care is planned, the school should fit with the Foster Carer's family life and be appropriate for the kid. The placement plan must clearly state who can make specific choices concerning a child.

3. Significant Events, Such as Surgery

Foster Carers are legally permitted to "do what is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the aim of safeguarding or promoting the child's wellbeing." This implies that if no agreement has been reached on what to do in an emergency, the Foster Carer may do whatever is "appropriate" to protect the kid. According to statutory guidelines, what is reasonable will be determined by the urgency of the situation and the feasibility of consulting a person with parental responsibility.

When major events are known ahead of time, their decision-making process should be outlined in the placement plan.

The Significance of the Placement Plan

The legislation compels local governments to incorporate any arrangements for the delegation of power from the Local Authority to the Foster Carer in the placement plan, which details the arrangements for the child to live with and be cared for by the Foster Carers. The placement plan should assist both the Foster Carer and the school in understanding Foster Carers' choices.

Schools must thus be familiar with the child's placement plan so that they understand which choices may be made by the Foster Carer and which must be made by the child's social worker.