Why do some children and young people become looked after

The number of looked after children and young people has increased every year for the last decade – but the number who are looked after as a result of their own offending behaviour is small.

Instead, the overwhelming majority are looked after for their own care and protection:

  • Some have experienced neglect
  • Some have experienced mental, physical or emotional abuse
  • Some parents are unable to look after their children because of their own substance misuse or poor parenting skills
  • Some young people need a bit of time away from their birth family or community while a package of support is put in place to try to rebuild family relationships or their ability to function
  • Some have complex disabilities and need to be placed in specialist residential schools
  • Some have become involved in the youth justice system

Looked after children and young people are individuals with their own personalities, needs and experiences. Some may be looked after for short or long periods, some return home, some are adopted and some remain looked after for many years until they reach adulthood.

The main thing they have in common is that life has not been easy for them. For most, some aspect of their life circumstances has led to a Children’s Hearing or a court deciding that some form of compulsory intervention is required.