Looked after children and young people: introduction

Tailored resource for corporate parents and providers

The resource is for people who act as corporate parents to looked after children and young people, including care leavers. It will help you put our quality standard on looked after children and young people into practice.

It highlights key messages for corporate parents for each of the 8 quality statements that make up the standard. The messages relate to high priority areas where improvements are needed.

The resource includes:

  • key messages from each of the quality statements
  • resources, further information and practical tools
  • links to relevant Ofsted judgements.

The resource has been co-produced by the NICE Collaborating Centre for Social Care and key people in the social care sector.

Why this quality standard matters

According to statistics on looked after children from the Department for Education, at the end of March 2013:

  • There were 68,110 looked after children and young people in England.
  • The majority (62%) were placed for reasons of abuse or neglect.
  • Three quarters of looked after children and young people were in a foster placement.
  • 9% were cared for in residential accommodation (secure units, children's homes and hostels).

A 2013 data pack on improving permanence for looked after children showed that:

  • The majority (36%) of looked after children and young people were aged between 10 and 15.
  • There were around 20% in each of the age groups 1 to 4 years, 5 to 9 years and 16 years and over.
  • Around 6% were under 1 year old.

Because of the diversity of age and their unique histories, looked after children and young people have individual and specific needs.

In recent years, there has been a renewed focus on improving outcomes for looked after children and young people. This has included the publication of:

At the same time, the Health and Social Care Act (2012) set out a new responsibility for NICE to develop quality standards in health and social care. One of the first standards we published was to promote the health and wellbeing of looked after children and young people (NICE quality standard 31).

The Children Act 1989, the Care Standards Act 2000 and accompanying regulations and guidance provide the legal framework for providing services to looked after children and young people.

This tailored resource uses this framework, together with the Ofsted framework for inspection, research evidence and practice examples, to draw together key messages relating to each of the quality statements in this quality standard.

How can the quality standard help corporate parents?

The quality standard is targeted at practitioners who have responsibility across services and local authorities to safeguard and promote the life chances of looked after children and young people. It:

  • Describes priority areas for improvement and suggests ways of assessing progress.
  • Provides some examples of good practice and links to further information and resources.
  • Gives prominence to the voice of the child, in line with the Ofsted inspection framework.

This resource shows what the quality statements mean for people who act as corporate parents to looked after children and young people, and how this relates to the Ofsted inspection framework.