Looked after children (LAC)

This term typically denotes children cared for by Government, though exact definitions vary between the four nations. More than 93,000 children in the UK are in care, 70,000 in England. Most are taken into care over fears of abuse or neglect. They are vulnerable to health inequalities, and exhibit significantly higher rates of mental health issues, emotional disorders (anxiety and depression), hyperactivity and autistic spectrum disorder conditions.

RCPCH lead

Dr Renu Jainer currently leads on looked after children on the RCPCH Child Protection Standing Committee. She also collaborates with the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (Coram BAAF) Health Advisors Group Committee.

Knowledge, skills and competence of healthcare staff

Developed in partnership with the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of General Practitioners (2015), this document provides a framework for healthcare staff to understand their role and responsibilities for meeting the needs of looked after children.

It sets out the required knowledge, skills, attitudes and values required with the aim of improving life experiences for some of the most vulnerable children in society. It also includes model job descriptions.

Promoting the health and wellbeing

The Department of Health and the Department of Education (2015) produced statutory guidance on the planning, commissioning and delivery of health services for looked after children in England. The guidance is relevant for local authorities, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and NHS England, alongside health professionals and professionals working in children's services.

NICE public health guidance

This guidance focuses on how organisations, professionals and carers can work together to help looked after children and young people reach their full potential and enjoy the same opportunities in life as their peers.