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Looked-after children

Leicester Children's Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA). Health and social care needs associated with looked after children.

The children most impacted by health inequalities are also affected by other inequalities such as living in areas of deprivation, poor childhood experiences, living apart from their parents, suffering abuse, neglect or exploitation, young carers, refugees, those with a parent in prison and those in the youth justice system. These issues disproportionately affect Looked After Children. Looked-after children (LAC), compared with their peers, have significantly more educational and mental health problems, and on leaving care have worse outcomes as adults.

The term ‘looked after’ applies to children or young people up to the age of 18 for whom the local authority provides care and accommodation on behalf of their parent(s), or for whom the local authority has either sole or shared parental responsibility by virtue of a court order.

Leicester City Council and the NHS have signed up to the recommendations from a Health Needs Assessment of Looked after Children conducted by Leicestershire County Council. All relevant agencies are working together to action the recommendations. Therefore most of the issues highlighted in this JSNA are already under consideration, have an action plan and are being improved.

Key facts

The rate of LAC in Leicester has increased from 63 per 10,000 children in 2010 to 70 per 10,000 children in 2015. The rate of LAC in Leicester has been consistently higher than England and the East Midlands. Most LAC are males (58%), white (65%) and aged 10-15 (34%).

The level of need in the population

Why children enter care

The primary reason (70%) children entered care during the year ending 31st March 2015 was due to Abuse or Neglect. Family dysfunction was the second most prevalent reason for children entering care in Leicester.

Outcomes for looked after children and young people

Looked after children and young people do not fare as well as their peers along several dimensions of health and overall well-being. Annual statistical information is available about children and young people who have been looked after continuously for at least 12 months by DfE, and the data are briefly summarised below.

Educational attainment

A smaller proportion of LAC children in Leicester are achieving at least level 2 at KS1 in reading (60%), writing (53%) and mathematics (60%) compared to England, the East Midlands and all peer comparators.

In reading (58%), grammar, punctuation & spelling (46%) and reading, writing & mathematics (27%) a lower percentage of LAC children in Leicester achieve Level 4 for Key Stage 2 (ages 7 to 11 years). This level of attainment is lower than the England and East Midlands averages. Leicester is particularly low for the ‘reading, writing and mathematics’ combined measure with only 27% achieving a Level 4.

Levels of offending

The proportion of children aged 10 or over at 31 March 2016 who had been looked after continuously for at least 12 months and who were subject to a reprimand , conviction or final warning during the year was 6.8%.

Statutory health checks for LAC

Statutory health assessments must be carried out for LAC, including routine dental checks and preventative measures such as immunisation.

The data are available in the full PDF at the bottom of this page.

Emotional Health and wellbeing of LAC

Only 21% of Leicester LAC children aged 5 to 16 years old who were looked after continuously for at least 12 months had an SDQ score. Leicester is significantly lower than the majority of its peers, the East Midlands and England.

LAC children by Special Educational Need

Almost 70% of LAC in Leicester had a special educational need (SEN). This is a factor which is likely to contribute to holding attainment of LAC below that for all pupils.

Projected Service Use

The LAC population in Leicester has increased each year, and it is expected to continue to increase over time. A forecast for LAC in Leicester is not available.

The increase in the size and complexity of this cohort will impact on the future demand for health, education and social care services. Services must take into account the complexities and unique situations faced by these children and young people.

The LAC population is likely to increase significantly when unaccompanied asylum seekers come into the authority. This is based on 0.07% of the population and is around 50 young people on a rolling programme. All unaccompanied asylum seekers become LAC.


Recommendations based on the findings of this JSNA.

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