Children in Care (Children Looked After)

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.

Children’s Residential Care

Hampshire has nine residential establishments within its boundaries.

Five homes cater for children and young people with long-term needs, i.e. those who need a period of stability in a residential home to enable them to move on to a long term placement with foster carers, on to independence or back home to their families. These homes offer children a safe, nurturing and caring environment where they can build purposeful relationships with the team who will offer support, advice and encouragement Homes work to the Emotional Warmth Model of Care (Pillars of Parenting) enabling young people to manage their emotions, anxieties and behaviours. These homes serve the whole County rather than their local area specifically. Altogether these facilities offer provision for up to 21 children and young people, aged between 12 and 17.

Three homes offer planned overnight short breaks to children with disabilities. These homes provide children with opportunities to learn and develop skills as well as and enjoy social and leisure experiences whilst staying away from home.

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

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.

Further information about PEPs.

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.

Market Position Statement

The Market Position Statement is for Independent Fostering Agency providers who are delivering, are able to deliver, or are planning to deliver foster care services in Hampshire.

It will help to structure engagement between the County Council, service users, their family and friends, and providers regarding the future vision of this service. The Market Position Statement will:

  • help identify what the future demand for placements is predicted to be
  • help identify what supporting arrangements might look like
  • act as a starting point for discussions between the Local Authority and those who provide services, in particular Independent Fostering Agencies (IFAs) and providers of specialist services
  • provide data on current placements and forecast demand to inform providers on specific areas of growth or need
  • provide an overview of the changes that Hampshire County Council plans to develop and communicate with providers about how their services will fit into the new strategy 

Market Positioning Statement - Children and Family Placements

Sufficiency Duty Strategy

In 2010, the government published statutory guidance on the implementation of Section 22G of the Children Act 1989. This requires local authorities to take steps that secure, as far as reasonably practicable, sufficient accommodation for looked after children within their local authority area this is known as ‘The Sufficiency Duty’.

The guidance also requires that local authorities include their plans for meeting the sufficiency duty in their relevant commissioning strategies.

Our Sufficiency Duty Strategy  , together with Hampshire’s Children and Young Peoples Plan (CYPP), sets out how Hampshire County Council aims to meet our sufficiency duty and our priorities for the coming year.