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Reasons for a child to be taken into care

Whether social services remove a child, or a child is put into foster care voluntarily by their parents, some of the most common reasons for foster care include:

  • Neglect
  • Parent illness
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Parent incarceration

Find out more of the most common reasons for foster care to occur, and what happens when a child is taken into care, from our helpful guide.

Reasons for a child to be taken into care


There are many different types of neglect that could lead to a child being taken into foster care. This includes:

  • Emotional neglect – not providing affection, attention and emotional care to children leads to emotional neglect. This is often a symptom of physical or emotional abuse.
  • Medical neglect – children often need medical attention, and not providing this as parents is deemed as medical neglect. This could be due to general carelessness, or abiding by religious beliefs.
  • Basic needs – sometimes, children’s basic needs can be neglected – such as providing food, water or a clean living-environment.


Abuse also comes in many forms which could lead to a child being removed by social services:

  • Emotional abuse – similar to emotional neglect, emotional abuse can be hard to prove – but refers to shouting, belittling, bullying, calling names and making the child feel unwanted or unsafe.
  • Physical abuse – this is one of the most common reasons for a child to be taken into care. Bruising on a child often identifies this type of abuse, or if there is evidence that a child is being restrained in a violent or dangerous way.
  • Sexual abuse – this refers to persuading children partake in sexual acts, or often against their own will.


Sometimes in rare cases, parents can simply abandon their children with no explanation. This could be dropping the child round to a babysitter’s and never returning, or leaving a child at home for an extended period of time on their own.


If parents or guardians of a child are sentenced to jail, and there is no one who can take care of the child in their absence, alternative care will need to be provided for the child – which often comes in the form of fostering.


Both physical and mental illness of a parent can lead them to be incapable of caring for a child – which is likely to lead to either temporary or permanent foster care, depending on the extent of the illness.


If the parents or guardians have died, and there is no other appropriate adult to take care of the child, the child would then be placed into the care system.

Voluntarily putting a child into care

On some occasions, parents may place their child into foster care voluntarily. The reasons for this could be due to some of the reasons listed above, such as parental illness or death of one parent, but mainly this happens when the parents cannot, or do not want to, care for the child any longer.

It should also be noted that children may need to be put into care due to their own actions, if their parents cannot take care of them or manage their behaviour. This would include:

  • Runaways – if the child is running away frequently, and the parents cannot control this behaviour, they may need to be placed into foster care.
  • Truancy – not attending school is another factor which could lead parents to have to voluntarily place the child into care.
  • Juvenile offender – if the child has had issues with law enforcement, they may be placed into remand fostering.

What happens when a child is taken into care?

When a child is placed into the care system, a local authority assesses the child’s situation – determining the level of care required. This care will be to ensure the child is provided with a substantial substitute home that they can be taken care of in a safe and secure environment. This may be on a short-term basis – if the child is able to return back to their birth parents, or it could become long-term fostering. It’s not uncommon for foster parents to stay in the lives of the children they foster after they have aged out of the system.

Find out more about who can foster, the different types of foster care and more from Foster Care UK today. For more information on the reasons why children are taken into care, get in touch with our expert team now.

Thinking of fostering?

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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