Children should be brought up within their own families where appropriate.
The role of the local authority is to provide family support services where appropriate to enable this to happen when it is consistent with the child's welfare.
No child should become looked after until there has been a proper assessment of the child's needs and consideration of family, community, Social Services or other agency resources which may appropriately support the child with their parents or extended family.
The Local Authority has a duty to provide accommodation when there is no person with parental responsibility, the child is lost or abandoned, or the person who has been caring is prevented for whatever reason from providing suitable care or accommodation.
Children are 'looked after' by the local authority irrespective of whether they are accommodated under s20 or on a care order. LAC requirements relate to 'looked after children' regardless of their legal status.
Children who are supported under S17 children Act 1989 in an alternative placement made by the child or family of the are not 'looked after' and consequently do not come under the LAC requirements. This cannot be agreed without the completion of an assessment.
Parents and people with parental responsibility retain their legal status in decision making with regard to their child when accommodated. The holder of parental responsibility must agree in writing to section 20 accommodation.
Children who are aged 16 and over can be accommodated without the agreement of their parents or people with parental responsibility if the local authority deems this to be appropriate.
A local authority cannot provide accommodation for a child if a person with parental responsibility is both willing and able to look after the child and does not want the local authority to accommodate the child. This is not the case if either, the child is over 16 and wishes to remain or become accommodated, or another person with a residence order or special guardianship order wishes the child to be accommodated.
Any person with parental responsibility for the child may at any time remove them from accommodation unless the child is over 16 and wishes to remain accommodated or another person with a residence order or special guardianship order wants them to remain accommodated.
A child may be accommodated by the local authority with the agreement of a parent providing that no other person with parental responsibility objects.
There is no obligation on a local authority to provide accommodation if it believes that it is not in the interests of the child.Only simple day to day decisions can be made by local authority staff and carers without the agreement of people with parental responsibility.
Accommodation must never be used as a way to avoid going to court to gain an order to look after the child.