Securing the health and wellbeing of looked after children

Children and young people come into the care system for a number of reasons, and although they have many of the same health issues as their peers, the extent of these is often greater because of their past experiences. Many looked after children have had their physical health neglected, have poor mental health and will have experienced significant trauma.

Trauma can have a direct impact on a child's health, wellbeing and cognitive development. Looked after children don't necessarily learn the rules of communication in the same way as other children. They can appear detached or disruptive. They may seek refuge or relief in risk-taking behaviour, including substance misuse and self-harm. A number of these children even take their own lives each year.

Delays in identifying and meeting their health needs and improving their wellbeing can effect all aspects of their lives, including their chances of reaching their potential and leading happy and healthy lives as adults.

Nurturing health and wellbeing 

We believe that to improve these children's lives and outcomes it's critical that society develops a deeper understanding of their physical and emotional health needs. Poor physical health and trauma, and the challenging behaviour it can provoke, affects not only the young people themselves, but also those around them. Carers, practitioners and professionals must have the right tools to intervene effectively and sensitively, and be able to nurture positive relationships with children.

Knowledge and understanding

We play a leading role by providing expertise, guidance, training and consultancy for our partners to develop and enhance their knowledge, skills, empathy and understanding of good health, including emotional health. We also play an advocacy role, encouraging politicians, service managers and the public to prioritise a group of children who have had a very difficult start to their lives. Between us we can provide the love, care and attention needed by looked after children, and ensure that their difficult start is followed by a bright future.

Looking for more information?

Get in touch if you'd like to find out more about what we're doing and how we can help.

CELCIS publications

CELCIS response to the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Poverty’s inquiry into poverty and stigma: call for written evidence

Our response highlights the impact of poverty-related stigma on children, young people and families in need of care and protection. Poverty-related st…

Case Study

Principles of Good Transitions - improving post-school transitions

Providing clear guidance to improve the quality of care and support for young people with additional support needs who are making the transition to yo…


More than a promise: the imperative to make change happen

Claire Burns, Director (Acting), CELCIS – Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection, marks the first anniversary of The Promise.

If you think poverty doesn’t affect you, you are part of the problem

Claire Burns, Director (Acting), CELCIS – Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection discusses how COVID-19 has exacerbated inequalities…