Children staying with us for more than 12 weeks

A guide for parents and carers


What happens when my child will stay in a healthcare setting for more than 12 weeks?

When a child stays or is likely to stay in a healthcare setting for more than 12 weeks, their healthcare team has to tell the Local Authority Children’s Social Care team where the child usually lives. This has to be done by law (the Children’s Act 1989, section 85).

Why do we have to tell the Local Authority?

Where your child is housed (as an inpatient) is shared to ensure your child’s safety and welfare. Children’s Social Care must consider this information, providing an additional ‘safety net’ for children living away from their home and main carers.

We understand that living away from home can be particularly difficult for children and young people and the limited and sometimes controlled contact with family and carers may affect their ability to talk about how they are feeling.

Some of the responsibilities of the Local Authority include ensuring that:

  • Children feel valued and respected and their self-esteem is promoted;
  • Children have ready access to a trusted adult outside the institution (hospital), e.g. a family member, social worker, independent visitor or children’s advocate.
  • Staff and foster carers are trained in all aspects of safeguarding children, can recognise children’s vulnerabilities and risks of harm, and know when and how to implement safeguarding children procedures.

How do you tell the Local Authority?

A healthcare professional; usually a nurse on the ward, will talk to you (parent/carer) about telling the Local Authority where your child is living. This is done by a referral. They will ask you where you live to make sure we refer to the correct Local Authority. The referral will require the hospital to share information with the Local Authority such as:

  • Child’s full name
  • Child’s date of birth
  • Child’s address
  • Date of admission to hospital/ward/department
  • Reason for admission and current health and social situation of the child
  • Parent’s name and contact details
  • Child’s General Practitioner

What happens next?

A social worker will contact you, and arrange to come and see you as well as your child to complete an assessment. They will make enquiries to check whether your child’s welfare is safeguarded and promoted while they are in hospital. To do this they will need to see your child alone (if they are of an appropriate age). They will speak with staff caring for your child. They will also be told when your child is discharged from hospital.

Any further questions?

If you have any further questions, please speak to your child’s named Nurse or Ward Manager.

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  • Page last reviewed: 23 January 2023
  • Next review due: 23 January 2024