Looked After Children (LAC) - guidance

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 Vicki Walker 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.

Roles and competencies of healthcare staff

Developed in partnership with the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of General Practitioners, 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.

This intercollegiate document - was revised and republished in December 2020 as Looked after Children: Roles and competencies of healthcare staff and can be used to support paediatricians working in this area with updated descriptions of roles and responsibilities and to consider appropriate training for all heath care staff.

Initial and review health assessments for looked after children

The RCPCH has produced two joint statements with the Royal College of Nursing in relation to Initial Health Assessments and Review Health Assessments for looked after children during the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic which are available to download below.

Promoting 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.

Statutory guidance: Promoting the health and wellbeing of looked after children

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.

NICE guidance - Looked after children and young people