This guideline covers how organisations, professionals and carers can work together to deliver high quality care, stable placements and nurturing relationships for looked-after children and young people. It aims to help these children and young people reach their full potential and enjoy the same opportunities in life as their peers.

This guideline does not provide detailed information on health promotion, or cover treatments for specific illnesses and conditions.

In May 2015, changes were made to recommendations 3, 5, 12, 36 and 38 to reflect changes to government policy.


This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Directors of children’s services and public health
  • Commissioners and providers of health and social care services
  • Carers (including foster carers)
  • Staff in independent and voluntary agencies, schools, colleges and universities
  • Organisations that train professionals and inspect services
  • Looked-after children and young people, their families, prospective adopters and other members of the public

Is this guideline up to date?

We checked this guideline in December 2017. We will plan an update of the guideline on looked-after children and young people.

Guideline development process

This is a joint guideline produced by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). It was developed using NICE’s public health programme process. It has used a mixture of SCIE and NICE methods – see appendix B for details

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 and practitioners are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service. It is not mandatory to apply the recommendations, and the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and their families and carers or guardian. 

All problems (adverse events) related to a medicine or medical device used for treatment or in a procedure should be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency using the Yellow Card Scheme.

Local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services 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 complying with those duties.

Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)