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The best place for most children to be is with their families. However, some children in Cambridgeshire come into care and are 'Looked After' by the Council because they cannot be supported by their own families. Some children and young people just need to be looked after for a short period before returning to their family; others need to be looked after for much longer. When they become Looked After, wherever possible, we try to keep children in the same family together.

Children may be Looked After under a voluntary agreement with their parents (sometimes called Section 20 accommodation), or sometimes we ask for agreement through the Courts. We will always look to other family members to provide alternative care in the first instance. Where this is not possible, the majority of Looked after Children are placed with foster carers and for a few children a residential placement in a children's home is more appropriate. Some young people aged 16 and 17 may be supported in a more independent arrangement such as supported lodgings or supported accommodation.

We encourage contact with children's families and try to find ways and means by which they can return home where it is safe to do so. All looked after children will have an allocated social worker who visits them regularly and talks to them and their family about what help they need, and what the plans are for the short term and longer term.

We have a section called Care leavers (16-25) local offer - with all the information you will need as a young person leaving the care of Cambridgeshire County Council.

For parents of disabled children we operate a short breaks scheme which provides care for children enabling their carers to have a break and for children to have a positive break away from home.  Sometimes the amount of overnight short break stays mean that children are deemed to be ‘looked after’.  For a few children who are severely disabled or need specialist care or support, or where there are concerns about significant harm, they may be looked after full time and live in specialist foster placements, residential homes or residential schools. Find out more about support for Looked After Children with special educational needs and/or disabilities

This promise was written by the Children in Care Council and Children’s Services to make sure Children in Care are getting the right services and support.

  1. We will work to keep you safe and help you to keep yourself safe.
  2. We will do everything we can to make you feel cared about, valued and respected as an individual.
  3. We will be honest with you and explain if we are unable to do something we said we would do. We will not make unrealistic promises to you.
  4. We will involve you in decision making so your views are listened to, and will explain when we make a decision you may not like or agree with.
  5. We will work to keep you in a supportive and caring environment where you feel safe and happy.
  6. We will support you to maintain a healthy lifestyle and help look after your physical and mental health.
  7. We will help you see your family, friends and other people who are important to you. If there are people we can’t support you to see. We will explain why.
  8. We will support you to achieve your goals and reach your potential, in your education, hobbies and interests.
  9. We will work with you to give you all the help and support you need to make a success of moving on from care to adult life.
  10. We will make sure you have the up-to-date information you need, including who is working with you and how to give us your views or ask us for help.

A 'Looked after Child' refers to any child or young person aged between 0 - 17. The Council also has a responsibility to those young people who have been in care for 13 weeks or more straddling their 16th birthday.  Responsibilities to provide leaving care services start from the age of 16 until young people reach 21 years of age, or 25 if they are in higher education. At the age of 18 a young person is no longer Looked After but if they are a care leaver will receive support from our 14 - 25 service.

The Corporate Parenting Board comprises Elected Members (Councillors) and senior managers of the council and has responsibility for ensuring that looked after children and care leavers receive services that meet their needs.. As corporate parents the Council will strive to ensure we provide our Looked after children with safe and supportive care which promotes their talents, skills and potential and encourages them to be the best that they can be.

Please take a look at our Looked After Children manual

The Participation Team aims to empower children and young people to use their views and experiences to make positive changes to Children's Services, for themselves and for others. We support a number of Participation Groups and opportunities including the Children in Care Council, VOICE (Care Experience Network), Youth Club, Young Inspectors, Young Recruiters and Young Trainers.