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What does 'looked after' mean?

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This section explains what it means to be looked after and answers some of the questions that you might have.

What the law says

In 1989 a new law called the ‘Children Act’ was made by the Government which changed a lot of things about how children are protected and cared for. This law said something no law had ever said before - that when a court is deciding whether a child should stay at home or be taken into care, what is best for the child is more important than anything else .

So to help them decide what is best for the child, the lawyers and judge in the court have to think about:

  • How the child feels and what the child wants to happen
  • What the child needs to help them feel

    happy and to grow up well

  • How being taken into care would affect them (including how old they are and what their personality is like)
  • Whether they have been hurt or neglected (not looked after well enough) and whether this is likely to happen again
  • How well the parents (or someone else like for example grandparents) can look after the child.

Although the local authority has parental responsibility, there are some things that they cannot let happen without getting the agreement of other people, usually your parents or a court. These include:

  • A child being adopted
  • A child being brought up in any religion other than the one they’d have had if they’d stayed with their family
  • Letting a child live outside the UK for more than 28 days.

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