Children in care

Children in care are looked after by their local authority. They might live in:

  • foster care
  • residential care
  • at home with their parents under supervision
  • other residential settings like schools.

They may go into care voluntarily, for example if their parents are struggling to cope, but they may also enter care because they need protection from harm.

The care system can provide the protection and support many vulnerable children and young people need. However, there is still a need for change and ambition for this group of children to ensure they are afforded the same chances as any child in England. The care they receive must be consistent and ensure real improvements and outcomes for their lives.

Just 15% of children in care achieved five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C including Mathematics and English, compared with 58% of children not in care according to the Department for Education.

The Children and Families Act 2014 says we should have particular regards to children living away from home, or receiving social care.

We work to ensure the voices of children and young people in care are heard and can influence policy and practice. Radical change and better opportunities for children in care is one of our key priorities.

Our priorities

  • Support until the age of 21

We want the Government to commit to fully funding continuing support and accommodation for all young people leaving care up to the age of 21. This includes providing more ambitious and aspirational care plans and greater stability for this group of children as they transition from care to independence.

  • End of B&B’s

Bed and breakfast accommodation is not suitable for young people making the transition from care to independence under any circumstances. We want to see an end of the use of bed and breakfast accommodation.

  • Care Monitor

We will launch a survey aimed at children aged 8 years and above who are in care. We want to hear from them how well they are being cared for and how things can be improved.

The findings of this survey will be used to inform the Government and other decision makers of what life is like for children in care. It will include ambitious recommendations about how to improve the lives of these children based on their views and experiences.

  • Advice and assistance

We run an advice and assistance line for children receiving social care services and living away from home. We also provide advice to adults who are representing these children. Find out more about our services here.

  • Participation visits

We visit places where children in care live to find out their views and make improvements.

Learn more about our work on children in care...

Below are some questions about children in care. You can find more questions and information on our Get Advice pages.

Questions about Children in care

Who can the Office of the Children’s Commissioner provide advice and assistance to and how can I contact you if I need help?

We have an advice and assistance service which provides help for:

I want to see my care records. Is this allowed?

Yes. The law says you have a right to see information about you (written and electronic).

How do I know if I am entitled to support as a care leaver?

If you are unsure if you qualify as a care leaver and are entitled to support under the Care Leaver Act 2000 then you should read this

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