Review decision:

This guideline was refreshed in May 2015. The refresh consisted of changes in recommendations 3, 5, 12, 36 and 38 to reflect changes to government policy since this guideline was published in October 2010. The evidence for the recommendations was not reviewed as part of this refresh, and the recommendations have not been changed.

Next review: To be scheduled

This joint guidance from NICE and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) is for all those who have a role in promoting the quality of life (that is, the physical health, and social, educational and emotional wellbeing) of looked-after children and young people. This includes directors of children’s services, directors of public health, people who commission and provide health and social care services, social workers, carers (including foster carers), healthcare workers, staff in independent and voluntary agencies, schools, colleges and universities, and organisations that train professionals and inspect services.

The guidance may also be of interest to looked-after children and young people, their families, prospective adopters and other members of the public.

The focus of the guidance is on how organisations, professionals and carers can work together to help looked-after children and young people reach their full potential and enjoy the same opportunities in life as their peers.

The recommendations cover local strategy and commissioning, multi-agency working, care planning and placements, and timely access to appropriate health and mental health services. In particular, they aim to:

  • promote stable placements and nurturing relationships
  • support the full range of placements, including with family and friends
  • encourage educational achievement
  • support the transition to independent living
  • meet the particular needs of looked-after children and young people, including those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, unaccompanied asylum seekers, and those who have disabilities
  • places looked-after children and young people at the heart of decision making.

November 2010: the footnote to recommendation 46 has been updated with details of new Department for Education guidance on transition to adulthood and leaving care.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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