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Caring for Children

Provided by the Children's Services Department

Children Looked After (Children in Care)

The term Children Looked After has a specific legal meaning based on the Children Act. A child is looked after by a local authority if he or she has been provided with accommodation for a continuous period of more than 24 hours, in the circumstances set out in sections 20 and 21 of the Children Act 1989, or is placed in the care of a local authority by virtue of an order made under part IV of the Act.

The majority of children who are looked after by the local authority are placed with foster carers as it is believed to be best for children to live within a family environment. For some children however, residential care may be more appropriate.

Personal Education Plan (PEP) - for Children in Care

The PEP is a vital document as it helps everyone gain a clear understanding about the teaching and learning provision necessary to meet the educational needs of a child who is in care .

In partnership with the lead person in the local authority (in some cases the social worker, in others it will be another appropriate professional) the designated teacher will be responsible for the development and implementation of the PEP and its review.

The Social Worker should pre-populate the PEP with basic information and details.

The Designated teacher should lead on the educational side of the PEP.


Children's Reviews

Children’s reviews are a key part of the planning process for your child. They are a legal requirement and the person who chairs the review is called an Independent Reviewing Officer, which means they are independent of those local authority staff who are responsible for formulating the care plan.

Whilst the care plan for your child is made by the social workers who are working with you and with other people who are significant to the child, it is the responsibility of the reviewing officer to ensure that the care plan for your child is:

  • fair and reasonable
  • appropriate to meet your child’s needs

and that the timescales for your child’s plans are kept to and all the day to day arrangements, including contact, are taken into consideration.

There are requirements about the frequency of reviews but the reviewing officer can require them to be held more frequently if there are concerns about any of the above.

Frequency of reviews

When a child has become ‘looked after’ by the local authority a statutory review must be held within 28 days.

The second review will be held no later than 3 months after the first review.

Subsequent reviews are to be held at no more than 6 monthly intervals, but can be earlier if the Reviewing Officer decides that they should be. (If the child is placed for adoption a review will be held within four weeks of placement and then at three monthly intervals until an adoption order is made.)


We encourage your participation in your child’s review. You may be able to attend unless it is considered not to be in your child’s best interests. The following people must be consulted:

  • The child (if age appropriate)
  • The child’s parents or those people with parental responsibility
  • The child’s carer
  • An independent visitor  (where appropriate)
  • Anyone from relevant agencies such as Health and Education who is involved with the child

The purpose of the review will be explained to the child and they will be consulted about where they might prefer the review is to be held and who they want to attend.

After the review you will be given a copy of the review minutes, unless your child is placed for adoption in which case you will be informed that the review has taken place and you will be given general information about your child’s progress.


Children’s Residential Care

Hampshire has ten residential establishments within its boundaries.

Six homes cater for children and young people with long-term needs, i.e. those who need a period of stability in a residential home (up to two years) to enable them to move on to a long term placement with foster carers, on to independence or back home to their families. These units serve the whole County rather than their local area specifically. Altogether these facilities offer provision for up to 33 children and young people, aged between 12 and 17.  

All six described above are centrally line managed as part of the County's residential service.

Three establishments offer planned respite care to children with disabilities. These are line managed as part of an integrated service for disabled children.

We also have a 16 bedded secure unit to which young people are referred to by the courts. This is a national resource. Some young people are also in the secure unit for their own protection, rather than being detained because of offences they have committed.


Links and organisations

A National Voice
Tel: 0161 237 5577

Children’s Rights Alliance for England
Tel: 020 7278 8222

National Youth Agency
Tel: 0116 242 7350  

Virtual School Hampshire (VSH)

Tel: 0808 800 5792

Who Cares
Tel: 020 7251 3117

Youth Support Services - Careers advice and guidance