Children's Social Care

Children in need of care and protection

Each local authority must protect and promote the welfare of children in need in its area. To do this, it must work with the family to provide support services that will enable children to be brought up within their own families.

Who are children in need?

Children in need are defined in law as children who are under 18 and:

  • need local authority services to achieve and maintain a reasonable standard of health or development
  • need local authority services to prevent significant or further harm or development
  • are disabled

What does a child protection plan do?

A child protection plan:

  • assess the likelihood of the child suffering harm and looks at ways that the child can be protected
  • decide upon short and long term aims to reduce the likelihood of harm to the child and to protect the child’s welfare
  • clarify people’s responsibilities and actions to be taken and
  • outline ways of monitoring and evaluating progress.

Who are looked after children?

Children who are looked after by their local authority are known as children in care. They might be living with foster parents, at home with their parents under the supervision of social services, in residential children's home or in other settings like schools or secure units. 

They might have been placed in care voluntarily by parents struggling to cope. Or, children's services may have intervened because a child was at significant risk of harm.