A child who has been in the care of their local authority for more than 24 hours is known as a looked after child. Looked after children are also often referred to as children in care. The majority of looked after children are cared for by foster carers or family members other than their parents. A small number of these children are in residential homes.
Children who enter the care system often have more health needs than other children, which means that they often require additional health support.
Our main aim is to provide looked after children with extra support to help them achieve similar levels of health to other children.
We work with Newcastle City Council to provide specific health services for looked after children from the Newcastle area. We work with around 560 children and young people from the city, and we also support unaccompanied asylum seekers under-18 years old.
When we first see a child, our doctors and nurses carry out an initial health assessment, which tells us about the health support the child will need.
After the initial assessment, we carry out follow-up assessments: for the under-fives there are assessments every six months; for children aged five and over, there are assessments every year.
The assessments can take place at the Royal Victoria Infirmary or at a location closer to the child’s home, such as a GP surgery, school or at home.
After the first health assessment, we develop a health action plan for the young person – this puts in place specific support to help improve their health and wellbeing.
The plan could include a schedule of visits to hospital, the GP or other healthcare professional. It also helps to co-ordinate all the health services, and ensures the child receives all the help they need.
For children at a higher risk, the plan can include practical one-to-one support, where our specialist nurses work closely with the child to guide them to the health services they need. This could even include accompanying them to appointments.
Who you might meet
Depending on their specific needs, looked-after children may see a range of healthcare workers, which could include:
- doctors, nurses and specialist nurses in hospital
- GPs and nurses in their local surgery
- health visitors or school nurses
- mental health workers
Working with others
We work very closely with everyone involved in the care of looked after children.
We also work with anyone involved in the child’s health, which can include:
- family members
- foster carers
- social care staff
- education professionals.
Confidentiality for our looked after children is extremely important. We listen very carefully to the children and young people themselves, and discuss their healthcare concerns with them.
We would only discuss a young person’s health issues with someone else if they allow us to do so, or if we think that not doing so would place the young person at risk of harm.
You can find out more details about Newcastle City Council’s looked after children service .