Children Looked After
- As at 31 March 2017, there were a total of 475 looked-after children in Somerset*, a rate of 43 children per 10,000 population aged under 16.
- Rates of looked after children in Somerset are consistently below South West and national averages.
- A higher number of children ceased to be looked after in Somerset in the year to 31 March 2017 than in the previous year, while the number of children who started to be looked after remained stable.
- Approximately 1 in 7 looked after children were adopted during the year to 31 March 2017, broadly in line with the national average rate.
(*note: figures are rounded to the nearest 5)
What is a looked after child?
Under the Children Act 1989, a child is legally defined as ‘looked after’ by a local authority if he or she:
- Is provided with accommodation for a continuous period for more than 24 hours;
- Is subject to a care order; or
- Is subject to a placement order.
A looked after child ceases to be looked after when he or she turns 18 years old. On reaching his or her 18th birthday, the status of the child changes from being looked after to being a young adult eligible for help and assistance from the local authority. Such help and assistance is usually provided in accordance with the various aftercare provisions of the Children Act.
Numbers and rates of looked after children
There were 475 looked after children in Somerset as at 31 March 2017, representing a rate of 43 children per 10,000 population aged under 18. Historically, rates of looked after children in Somerset have been consistently below South West and national averages. A dip in the rate in Somerset in 2017 is set against a slight increase in the rate nationally (see Figure 1, below).
Source: Department for Education, SFR 2017/50
A total of 730 children were looked after at any time during the year ending 31 March 2017, a slight increase on the 715 children in the year ending 31 March 2016 (this excludes children only looked after under a series of short-term placements).
Children who started to be looked after during the year
- The number of children who started to be looked after in Somerset during the year ending 31 March 2017 was 230, broadly the same number as in the previous year.
- By comparison, numbers of children who stared to be looked after increased nationally but declined in the South West as a whole.
Children who ceased to be looked after during the year
- There were 260 children who ceased to be looked after in Somerset during the year ending 31 March 2017, compared to 230 children the previous year.
- Nationally and in the South West region numbers of children who ceased to be looked after declined.
Looked After Children who were adopted
- Of the 260 children in Somerset who ceased to be looked after in the year to 31 March 2016, a total of 35 were adopted.
- This equates to 13% of looked after children being adopted during the year, which was broadly in line with South West region and national averages (both 14%).