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Life chances

Children in Care

It is our duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, and we make sure that every effort is made to keep families together by providing support to children at home. However sometimes its not possible for children and young people to remain living at home.

Children and young people under 18 years old who do not live with their parents or family are known as ‘looked after children’ or ‘children in care’.

Devon County Council has legal responsibility for these children as a ‘corporate parent’, which means they have a duty to provide children in care and care leavers in Devon with the kind of support that any good parents would provide for their own children.

There are more than 600 children in care in Devon. Some because their parents have made an agreement with the local authority, for example if they are too unwell to look after them, or their child has a disability and needs respite care. Others have no responsible adult to care for them or a court decides they cannot live at home because they are at significant risk of harm.

Children can be in care anytime from birth to 18 years old and for a short while or until they reach adulthood.

Being looked after includes living with foster carers, in a residential children’s home or in secure accommodation.

A child stops being looked after when they are adopted, return home or turn 18 years old. Local authorities are required to support children leaving care at 18 years old until they are at least 21. This may involve them continuing to live with their foster family.

Mission statement

The mission statement was written by our children in care.

“Working to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and young people who are in care or leaving care across Devon by

  • providing support if it is needed
  • sticking to the promises made to children young people in Our Pledge
  • fulfilling children and young peoples’ mental, physical, social and emotional needs”

Stand Up Speak Up (SUSU)

If you are in care or a care leaver please visit the Stand Up Speak Up website to find out about Devon’s Children in Care Council and how you can have a say on issues that affect you. There is also lots of useful information, films for you to watch and games.

Mind Of My Own

Are you in in care or do you have a social worker? The free Mind Of My Own app is an easy way for you to tell your worker, or another adult that is working with you, what you’re thinking and get things off your chest. You can use it before a meeting, to ask for a change or to get a problem sorted. Many young people across the country have found it really helpful to get their views heard. You can talk to your worker or carer for support with downloading the app if you like.

Lifelong Links

Lifelong Links is an exciting three year trial for children in care funded by the Department for Education Innovation Program from April 2017. Seven English Local Authorities and two in Scotland are part of the trial. Lifelong Links draws on a combination of a Family Finding model, which originated in the United States and the Family Group Conference model, which originated in New Zealand.

The Lifelong Links trial is for children and young people who have been in care for less than three years and are fifteen years old or under. It aims to reconnect them with family, friends and other adults who have been important to them. Lifelong Links puts the child or young person at the centre and ensures that their voice is paramount throughout the whole process.

Lifelong Links uses searching tools and techniques to find family members known or unknown to the child or young person and other adults such as former foster carers or teachers the child or young person has identified and would like to contact. These people are brought together in a Family Group Conference to make a life-long support plan with and for the child or young person.

The aims of Lifelong Links include:

  • Increasing the number of supportive, lasting relationships for children or young people in care
  • Reducing the number of placement breakdowns
  • Improving emotional and mental wellbeing
  • Improving educational engagement and attainment
  • Reducing any incidents of running away
  • Reducing any harmful and risky behaviours including substance misuse, self-harm and criminal activity
  • Improving long term outcomes for young people leaving care, including an increase in training and employment and reduced likelihood of their own child being removed

If you have any questions about Lifelong Links please contact 

Devon Virtual School

As corporate parents, Devon County Council is committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for children in care. The Virtual School supports all children in care who are living in Devon or who are looked after by Devon but living in another part of the country.

All children and young people have different educational needs so the Virtual School exists to help ensure that children in care and care leavers are provided with first class education that caters for their needs, supports their wellbeing and recognises their success. Schools are at the heart of providing a good education and they have the responsibility and additional funding to provide further support to ensure that children in care achieve as well as they can.

Many children and young people in care do well at school, however, as a group, those in care do not perform as well as their peers. The Virtual School aims to work with schools, foster carers, and other services to close this attainment gap by ensuring that children receive the best education possible and get the support they need. A good education provides a sound basis for transition to a fulfilling adult life, while school provides stability, continuity and normality for children in care, helping to ensure that these vulnerable young people have the best possible life chances.

If you are concerned that a child is being abused please call

0345 155 1071

or email

If it’s an emergency call 999

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