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Virtual School key terms
This page lists the key terms that you’ll find on the pages relating to support and guidance for adopted and permanently placed children and young people.
Not all children who come into care can return to live with their parents. In these cases, the courts will decide the best option to make sure they are safe, stable and can grow through-out their childhood in a ‘permanent’ home, e.g. adoption, long-term fostering, kinship foster care, special guardianship orders, child arrangement orders, residential care.
Previously Looked After
A previously looked-after child is a child adopted from the care of an English local authority under the Adoption Act 1976 or the Adoption and Children’s Act 2002 or who, immediately after being looked after by an English local authority, became the subject of an adoption, special guardianship or child arrangements order which includes arrangements relating to with whom the child is to live, or when the child is to live with any person, or has been adopted from ‘state care’. If a child has a previous care experience than they may be able to access specific support and resources, e.g. the school admissions process prioritises the school choice.
Kinship care, also called connected persons or family and friends care, is where children are looked after by people they already know. There are different types of kinship care – formal or informal. All provide an opportunity for children to feel loved and cared for by people with whom they already have a connection. Children will not necessarily have been looked after or ‘in Care’ prior to living in a formal or informal kinship care.
Adoption is the legal process by which a child or a group of siblings who cannot be brought up within their birth family become full, permanent and legal members of their new family.
Adopters become the child’s legal parents with the same rights and responsibilities as if the child was born to them. This is an order giving full parental responsibility for a child to the approved adopters, made on their application to the court. An adoption order severs the le-gal ties between a birth parent and the child, so that the adoptive parent(s) become the child’s legal parent(s) throughout life. An adoption order does not end when a child turns 18 – the child/adult remains a legal member of his/her new family permanently.
Special Guardianship Order
Special Guardianship is an order made by the Family Court that places a child or young per-son to live with someone other than their parent(s) on a long-term basis. The order gives the guardian parental responsibility for the child. Special Guardianship means that the child lives with carers who have parental responsibility for them until they are 18. Children will not nec-essarily have been looked after prior to being placed on a Special Guardianship Order.
Child Arrangements Order
A child arrangements order is a legal agreement between the court and the parents or guard-ians of a child often granted when parents are going through a divorce procedure. Child ar-rangements orders are used to ensure that the child’s living arrangements are made in their best interests. In short, anyone who has parental responsibility for the child can apply, even if they are not a biological parent. Children will not necessarily have been looked after prior to being placed on a Child Arrangements Order.