• Health & Social Care

Looked After Children: Improving Life Chances

  • Wednesday, 05 December 2018
  • Manchester Conference Centre
  • 08:30 - 16:30
  • Overview

Latest government figures show that there are 72,000 children in care in England.

A recently published report surveyed 2,263 people that had been taken into local authority care. The responses revealed that for the majority (83%), being in care was a positive experience and had enhanced their wellbeing and improved their lives. However, the findings also highlighted areas that required improvements, such as communicating why the person has been taken into care, frequent changes in social workers and the feeling of not being listened to and decisions being made without consultation. 

To explore the challenges facing the care system and the children and young people it is designed to support, Open Forum Events are pleased to be hosting the Looked After Children: Improving Life Chances conference.

The number of children entering care is at an all-time high with 90 young people entering the system every day. The majority of cases are due to parental abuse and neglect, however, household issues, such as poverty, poor housing and substance misuse are significantly contributing to the figures. There are claims that austerity, changes within the benefits system with the introduction of Universal Credit and the slashing of essential children and family services are partly responsible for the record number of children now living in care. 

Compared to their counterparts, children in care face a plethora of added issues. This vulnerable group are more likely to suffer abuse, become homeless, be teenage parents, be a young person not in education, employment or training (NEET), have mental health issues and be victims of exploitation. The challenge, regardless of the added risks and possible problems, is that these children and young people are offered the same opportunities to succeed in life as their peers. 

The Looked After Children: Improving Life Chances conference will offer delegates the opportunity to be fully briefed on the current situation within the care system and gain an update on the latest developments in terms of policy and funding. Guided by a line-up of expert speakers, the agenda will address some of the major child protection issues facing those entering the care system and examine the support needed to ensure that looked after children receive the best possible care and can look forward to a bright future.

Making the decision to take a child away from their family and place them in local authority care is never easy for all involved, however, for the young person it can be exceptionally difficult, distressing and obviously life-changing. Being a ‘looked after child’ presents a host of different scenarios that invoke a variety of responses.

The number of looked after children is increasing and the current figure is at an all-time high. The causes for the burgeoning numbers are numerous and complex, however, the squeeze on council budgets is thought to be compromising the provision of essential services, such as children’s centres, early intervention initiatives and support networks to identify vulnerable families and children at risk. This accelerates the direct involvement of children’s social services and the possibility of children being placed in local authority care. In 2016, three-quarters of English councils exceeded their budgets for children’s services with an overspend of £605m.

The government has responded by announcing a £20 million improvement plan for children’s social services to support vulnerable children. Funds have also been allocated to speed up and improve the adoption system and also to support young care leavers to transition from care to independent living.

Children in care are four more times likely to suffer from mental health conditions than their non-looked after peers. Dealing with a traumatic or chaotic upbringing, in which they may have experienced abuse or neglect, bereavement, disability or serious illness in one or both parents and possibly be from a disadvantaged background can certainly impact on wellbeing. Going into care can also be the cause of major and traumatic upheaval, impacting on emotional stability. Unfortunately, the mental health needs of these vulnerable children are often going unnoticed and unmet.

Child protection is a major consideration for looked after children. Whilst some children will have experienced abuse before entering care, there is a small proportion who experience abuse or neglect whilst in care. It is also estimated that 20 to 35% of children that are sexually exploited are in care and are also at risk of being exploited in other ways. such as drug mules by 'county lines' gangs.

A report from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, "How the Home Office considers the ‘Best interests’ of Unaccompanied Asylum-seeking Children", has recently been published following an inspection in late 2017. The report looked into how the best interests of unaccompanied children are considered during the processes and decision making relating to their claim for asylum. It concluded that there were consistent and regular failures in Home Office practice and made several recommendations for improvement.

There are many ways in which the lives of young people experiencing the care system can be improved.

Providing the support and safeguarding to enable families to stay together, rather than transferring the child to the care of the local authority is hugely beneficial. Improving the adoption and fostering processes and providing support for prospective parents can also help to provide stable, loving environments in a timelier manner. Promoting the opportunities for kinship care, where children can live with extended family members, will again offer children the chance to live in a family setting.

Leaving care can be a daunting prospect for young people. There is a danger they fall between the gaps in service provision, making them more likely to become homeless, become a NEET or an offender. In February, Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi announced up to £5 million for three new Social Impact Bond projects to support care leavers into education, employment or training. He also announced the delivery partner for the Care Leaver Covenant, which offers a platform for organisations to pledge their support for young people as they face the challenges of leaving care.

The Looked After Children: Improving Life Chances conference will explore all the issues and discuss the way forward to ensure that the life chances of a child or young person in care are not diminished because of the circumstances in which they find themselves.

Read more
  • Confirmed Speakers

  • Benefits of attending

  • Gain insight into the current climate and trends within the care system in the UK.
  • Hear about the very latest government policies and funding pledges that are designed to support better outcomes for looked after children.
  • Improve understanding of the reasons why it is necessary for children to be taken into care and why the numbers are currently on the increase.
  • With a greater prevalence of mental health issues amongst looked after children listen to how this vulnerable group is being supported to improve their mental health and wellbeing.
  • Discover more about the challenges faced by unaccompanied child asylum seekers and the how UK authorities can best provide for their needs.
  • Better understand how child exploitation is manifested, particularly the link between children in care and the ‘County Lines’ drug operations.
  • Listen to examples of interventions that are proving to be successful in keeping family units together.
  • Hear more about the role adoption, fostering and kinship care can be utilised for maximum positive impact and the improvements that are required to the current process.
  • Learn more about the latest government initiative to better support those leaving care and develop the skills required to transition to independent adult life.
  • Share best practice and experiences.
  • Benefit from the opportunity to question, discuss, network and knowledge share with speakers and delegates.
  • Gain CPD credits.

Share event

Event Supporters

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair’s Opening Address

Peter Grigg, Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research, Children's Society (invited)


Keynote Address

Steve McCabe MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers (APPG) (confirmed)

"Bright Futures - Providing Equal Opportunities for Children in Care"

Children in care have the same right as any other young person to feel safe, secure and happy. Their hopes for the present and expectations for future success should not be diminished because of the circumstances in which they find themselves.


Eleanor Briggs, Head of Policy and Research, Action for Children, (confirmed)

"Exploring the Reasons Why Record Numbers of Children are in Care?"

Ninety children a day entered care in 2016, with a record number of children now in the care system. The Local Government Association official figures show the total number of looked after children reached a new high of 72,670 in 2016/17 - up from 70,440 the year before. What factors are driving the increase?



Dr Clare Nuttall, Team Manager, Solar LAC Team, Solar, Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (confirmed) 

Kate Bunting, Operations and Community Engagement Manager, Solihull Library Service, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council (confirmed)

"Improving Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing in Partnership: The Chelmsley Wood Reading Den"

The Chelmsley Wood Reading Den is a library-based resource of books, audio-CDs, and DVDs, specifically chosen to support the needs of looked after and adopted children and young people and their carers and parents. Delivered in partnership between the Solihull Library Service and Solar, the emotional wellbeing and mental health service for children and young people in Solihull, the Reading Den aims to offer specialist resources in an accessible and non-stigmatising setting. These resources include books to educate and inform foster carers and parents, as well as books for children and caregivers to read together to help nurture relationships and support children’s emotional wellbeing through facilitating conversations about thoughts feelings and experiences, both ordinary and more difficult.


Main Sponsor


Question and Answer Session


Coffee in the Networking Area


Case Study


Angela Gluck, Trustee, The Separated Child Foundation (invited)

"Considering the ‘best interests of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children’"

A recently published report looked into the Home Office’s handling of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, and in particular at how it ensured that the ‘best interests’ of the child were properly considered throughout the asylum process. The report has made several recommendations to ensure improvements are made within the current system.

  • Lyn Parsons, Project Manager Unwarranted Variation and Looked After Children, National Safeguarding Team, NHS England (confirmed)
  • Julie Carter, Safeguarding Co-ordinator , Coventry and Rugby CCG (confirmed)
"Unwarranted Variation and Looked After Children "

This Leading Change Adding Value project aims to reduce unwarranted variation in the commissioning and service delivery to improve the health outcomes for looked after children. The primary areas of concern in relation to children being able to;

• Access timely and quality health services wherever they are placed
• Care at transition when they move out of LAC status
• Addressing unwarranted variation of LAC compared to peers who aren’t LAC


Case Study


Question and Answer Session


Lunch in the Networking Area


Chair’s Afternoon Address


Case Study


Speaker TBC

"Supporting Families to Stay Together"

Supporting vulnerable families and intervening early can help stem the flow of children that are being taken into care. Being allowed to stay within the family not only benefits the child enormously but can relieve the pressure on overstretched council servcies and mitigate some of the future societal issues related to being brought up in care.



Dr Carol Homden, Chief Executive Officer, Coram (confirmed)

"Improving Children’s Outcomes- Adoption, Fostering and Kinship Care"

Providing stable, family orientated loving care, outside state-run residential facilities, is preferable and most beneficial for looked after children. To achieve this, whether on a permanent basis through adoption, temporary measures such as placements with foster carers or awarding guardianship to extended family members, there needs to be improvements in the processes and better support provided.


Question and Answer Session


Afternoon Refreshment Break


Mark Riddell MBE, National Implementation Adviser for Care Leavers (invited)

"Supporting Care Leavers "

At 18, young care leavers are more likely to not be in employment, education or training, be socially excluded or homeless or have come into contact with the criminal justice system. Making the transition to independent living can be challenging and there is a danger of these young people slipping through gaps between services. Support is needed to ensure care leavers have the necessary skills to successfully move on with their lives.


Speaker TBC

"Protecting Vulnerable Children from Criminal Exploitation"

Vulnerable children, including those that are in the care of social services, are targeted by criminal gangs to undertake criminal activity such as the criminal enterprise called ‘county lines’, where children are used to distribute drugs, supplied by large city gangs, to rural and coastal areas. Backed up by funding, the government has announced plans to develop a new National County Lines Coordination Centre to tackle the issues.


Emma Lewis, Chair, Roots Foundation (confirmed)

"Hear Our Voice"

What is it like to be a child taken into care? Whilst professionals and statutory bodies make decisions in good faith, it is the children and young people who are most qualified to describe their experiences and explain their needs and wants.


Question and Answer Session


Chair’s Closing Remarks and Event Close

  • Register for event

Having difficulty paying through Eventbrite? If you would like assistance registering your place please contact me on 0161 376 9007 and i'll be happy to assist. If you are awaiting funding you can request us to hold your place today to ensure you do not miss out.

Discounts for 3 or more delegates are available.

Want to pay by invoice? If you select your tickets and click on the green Register button. Once you’re through to the registration page, you can switch payment method from Credit/ Debit Card to Pay by Invoice

Luke Boulter
  • Contact Details
  • News
  • Supporters
  • Venue
  • Featured Events
  • Downloads

Contact Details


  • Importance of Schools in the Children and Young People’s Mental Health System

    • Posted on 01 December 2017
    • by Professor Dame Sue Bailey OBE
  • Improving the Whole Children and Young People’s Mental Health System

    • Posted on 25 November 2016



Manchester Conference Centre

Manchester Conference Centre

Manchester Conference Centre is the ideal solution when searching for conference venues in Manchester. Top-of-the-range conference suites, 3 star value hotel accommodation, delicious dining and friendly service are the ideal components for a successful conference or event in the heart of the city centre.

The 18 conference rooms are decked out with all the mod cons including state-of-the-art AV technology, projectors and screens, free Wi-Fi and flip charts. Our clients cover the whole spectrum and include government organisations, trade unions, large corporate companies, non-profit organisations, health and education sectors and small to medium-sized businesses.

From the get-go we strive for excellence in everything we do and our dedicated team of conference professionals go all out to make sure your conference, event or exhibition runs like clockwork.

Featured Events

  • Safeguarding Children: Finding Solutions for Better Protection

    • 24 May 2018
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Safeguarding Children: Effective Collaboration for Child Protection and Wellbeing

    • 11 May 2017
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Children and Young People's Mental Health: Improving Care, Treatment and Support

    • 12 December 2017
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Children and Young People’s Mental Health: Promoting Integration and Early Intervention

    • 08 December 2016
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • Manchester Conference Centre
  • Safeguarding Children: Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation

    • 22 April 2015
    • 08:30 - 13:30
    • The Place Aparthotel, Manchester
  • Children and Young People's Mental Health: Providing Effective Support

    • 03 July 2018
    • 08:30 - 17:00
    • The Royal National Hotel, London
  • Children and Young People’s Mental Health: Taking Early Action

    • 06 July 2017
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • The Royal National Hotel, London

Downloads & Resources

  • Open Forum Events Sponsorship Brochure
    Open Forum Events offer a number of partnership, sponsorship and exhibition opportunities that can meet your marketing and business development needs.
  • Who will attend?

  • 14-19 Partnership Teams
  • Academics and Researchers
  • Director/Heads Adoption and Fostering Agencies
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Co-ordinators
  • Asylum and Immigration Officers
  • Care Leavers Champions
  • Central Government Departments and Agencies
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Practitioners
  • Child and Educational Psychologists
  • Child Protection and Safeguarding Teams
  • Child Protection Officers
  • Children’s Health Service Professionals
  • Children’s Services Officers
  • Heads of Children’s Trusts and Children’s Centres
  • Commissioning Managers
  • Community and Voluntary Organisations
  • Community Development Managers
  • Director/Heads Connexions and Jobcentre Plus
  • Director/Heads Corporate Parenting Boards
  • Designated Nurses and Health Advisors for Children in Care
  • Director/Heads Local Education Authorities
  • Director/Heads Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards
  • Director/Heads Local, Regional and National Health Services
  • Director/Heads Looked After/Children in Care Teams
  • Director/Heads NEET Strategy Teams
  • Director/Heads Permanency Teams
  • Director/Heads Regional Adoption Agencies
  • Director/Heads Welfare Rights Organisations
  • Directors/Heads of Children and Young People’s Services
  • Domestic Violence Co-ordinators
  • Director/Heads Drug and Alcohol Action Teams
  • Early Years and Childcare Practitioners
  • Education and Welfare Officers
  • Education Providers
  • Director/Heads Employment and Training Services
  • Families Services Officers
  • Family Intervention Project Workers
  • Family Pathfinder Workers
  • Family Placement Teams
  • Family Support and Outreach Team Leads
  • Heads of Children’s Strategy Members of Health and Wellbeing Boards
  • Director/Heads Homelessness Teams
  • Director/Heads Housing Service Providers
  • Local Authority Officers and Councillors
  • Looked-After Children Team Managers
  • Members of Police and Fire Service
  • Mental Health Practitioners
  • Post Adoption Support Services Leads
  • Psychotherapists
  • Residential Children’s Home Managers
  • School Nurses and Health Visitors
  • Schools, Colleges and Further Education Providers
  • Social Workers and Social Services Officers
  • Director/Heads Supported Housing Teams
  • Teachers and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators
  • Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinators
  • Third Sector Representatives
  • Youth Inclusion Teams
  • Youth Workers and Youth Offending Teams