Reasons for a child to be taken into care


There are multiple reasons why children may be taken into care. Across England, 83,840 children are reported to be in care by local authorities as of March 2023. The reasons for this may include:

  • physical abuse
  • neglect
  • abandonment
  • parental illness

Social services can remove a child from their birth family for a number of reasons. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the more of the common reasons that foster carers are needed, as well as what happens when a child is taken into care in our helpful guide.

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 remain healthy.
  • Basic needs – this refers to neglecting basic human needs to survive. 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 the 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.
  • Substance abuse – birth parents may suffer from a drug addiction or alcohol abuse, meaning they are not fit to take care of a child.



  • In the extreme cases of parents or guardians passing, and there is no appropriate adult to take care of the child or children, local authorities would step in and place them into care - this may lead to a long term foster placement.


  • In some instances, a child may be abandoned. This could either be leaving the children at home for an extended period of time or dropping them off at a trusted location and never returning. This would be classed as abandonment and will lead to children entering the care system.


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 and suitable home where they can be taken care of.

Though foster carers are encouraged to help support the reunification process where possible, in many cases, the previous birth family home may not be suitable for the child to return to. When this happens, children in care will likely experience a variety of different 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.

Why are children voluntarily placed into care?

In rare situations, children can be placed 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. However, primarily placing a child into care would happen due to not being able to, or not wanting to, look after the child any longer.

There are some circumstances where children may need to be placed into foster care for their own actions, typically due to uncontrolled behaviour such as:

  • Runaways – if children have a habit of repeatedly 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.


Looking for more information on who can foster? Or are you interested in finding out more about the fostering process? Simply get in touch with a member of our team on 01253 712734 to help answer any questions you may have.

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If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with Capstone, fill out the form below.
An experienced fostering advisor from your local area will then be in touch.

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