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Why Children End Up In Foster Care

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Every decision by social services to place a child into foster care is taken immensely seriously, in conjunction with experts, local authorities and experienced agencies.

Because of the seriousness of the situation, every child who needs a foster home has a story, and concerns about their wellbeing that are so significant that the best course of action is to place them into the care of the state, a situation that makes them a looked after child.

Understanding why children end up in the foster system can help prospective carers understand the importance of the work they do, and the massive impact they can provide to vulnerable children.



Abuse can take many forms, from the physical to the emotional, but once social services can prove that a child has been the victim of or is at serious risk of harm, they will intervene and make the child the subject of a care order under the Children Act 1989.

However, another type of abuse that intersects with other reasons children enter the foster system is that parents or guardians abuse substances to the point that they are unable to take full responsibility for their child, then the child will be placed into care.



Whilst most commonly associated with the inability to meet basic needs such as cleanliness, food and water, it can include emotional neglect (intersecting with abuse) or not seeking necessary medical attention.

This is one of the most common reasons children enter care, but also one that tends to be short term, as parents subject to a care order for this often wake up to the reality of their responsibilities.



If a child is abandoned, cannot be traced and a suitable relative is unable to care for them, then they are often taken into care.

These are particularly tragic cases as children are often left alone or with a babysitter for an extended period.



If a parent is convicted of a crime and sent to prison, then they will be unable to care for their child, and if no other suitable relative is found to care for them, they can often end up in care for the length of the prison sentence.


Illness Or Death

If a parent is unable to take care of a child because they have serious illnesses or pass away, with nobody in their family or friendship circle able to take care of the child in their place, they can end up in care.