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Reasons for a child to be taken into care

There are multiple reasons why children may be taken into care, which can include physical abuse, neglect, abandonment and parent illness.

Often, social services remove a child from their birth family for a number of reasons, but this informative guide also details information about putting your child into care yourself. Learn more of the common reasons for foster care to occur, as well as what happens when a child is taken into care.

How do children end up in foster care?


One of the most common reasons for foster care is neglect of a child or young person. This can come in many forms, such as:

  • Medical neglect – this refers to not providing the medical attention the child needs in order to stay healthy.
  • Basic needs – this refers to neglecting human needs, for example, food and water.
  • Emotional neglect – this can be in the form of physical or emotional abuse.


Following on from neglect, one of the main causes of neglect can be abuse of a young person or child. This includes:

  • Emotional abuse – shouting, name-calling, bullying, belittling.
  • Physical abuse – this can be discovered from bruising or marks evident on the child, or if there’s evidence to suggest restraint or confinement.
  • Sexual abuse – this is persuading or forcing children to partake in sexual acts against their will.
  • Alcohol abuse – birth parents may suffer from a drug additional or alcohol abuse, meaning they are not fit to take care of a child.
  • Illness
  • Mental or physical illness may lead to birth parents or guardians not being able to take care of a child.


In the extreme cases of parents or guardians dying, and there is no appropriate adult to take care of the children, the children would then be taken into care.

  • Abandonment
  • Either leaving the children at home for an extended period of time or dropping them off at a babysitter’s and never returning, abandonment will lead to children entering the care system.


Children will be put into care if parents or guardians have been sentenced to jail, and there is nobody to look after them while they complete their sentence.

What happens when a child is taken into care?

When a child is placed into the foster care system, a local authority is brought in to assess the child’s situation and determine the foster placement requirements. This is to ensure the child has the most appropriate home where they can be taken care of.

In many cases, the previous birth family home may not be suitable for the child to return to – so children in care will likely experience a variety of types of foster placements. It’s also not uncommon for foster parents to stay in the foster children’s lives once they have aged out of the system.

Putting your child into care

In rare situations, children can be put into care voluntarily by their birth family or guardians. This could be due to some of the reasons above – for example, if the parents know they are unwell and cannot look after a child, or having a jail sentence pending – but primarily, putting a child into care would happen due to not being able to, or not wanting to, look after the child any longer.

However, there are some circumstances where children may need to be put into foster care for their own actions, if their behaviour cannot be controlled:

  • Runaways – if children have a habit of continually running away.
  • Truants – if children are regularly missing school and parents are unable to change this behaviour.
  • Juvenile offenders – if children have issues with law enforcement and have been adjudicated as a juvenile offender.

Need more information on what happens when a child is taken into care? Or if you want to discuss the reasons for a child to be taken into care further, get in touch with a member of our team. Alternatively, find out more about how to become a foster parent today and the fostering process.

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Our team of friendly fostering advisors are on hand to answer any questions you may have. We can offer you honest and practical advice that can help you decide if becoming a foster carer is right for you.

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