Child We Care For

A child is legally ‘looked after’ if they are in the care of the local authority for more than 24 hours. In Oxfordshire the term ‘Child We Care For’ is used instead of ‘looked after child.’ A CWCF may be living with friends or family members, with a foster parent, in a residential home or school or on their own in supported housing.

Our responsibilities

We are responsible for making sure that the child or young person has their health needs reviewed by qualified health professionals. There is a lot of research to suggest that some CWCF may not have received all the usual routine healthcare that help keep a child healthy such as immunisations or dental care and there may be missed medical appointments.

Having a health review means that this can all be looked at and a plan made to fill in the gaps. Because the health of CWCF is felt to be so important, it has been made into law that all CWCF should be offered a first health assessment with a medical doctor when they enter the care of the local authority. If a child remains looked after by the local authority, they continue to have health checks with a nurse or doctor every year if aged over 5, and twice a year, if under 5.

If a CWCF does not live in Oxfordshire, we will work with the health teams in other areas to ensure that a health appointment is offered. If we are asked, we will also arrange the health reviews for CWCF living in Oxfordshire from other areas.

The First Health Check (Initial Health Assessment- IHA)

Every child who becomes cared for by the local authority should have a first health check with a qualified Doctor within the first few weeks. The Phoenix Team works closely with Oxfordshire County Council to ensure that this can take place and all the necessary information is in place.

The doctor will:

  • Ask about whether anyone has concerns about the child’s health
  • Ask about whether the child has any health worries, when they have been ill in the past and any relevant family health history
  • Ask about eating, sleeping, exercise and hobbies
  • Discuss how the child has been feeling, behaving and any worries
  • Discuss how you can stay healthy

The doctor will then do a quick physical check-up which does not involve any injections or procedures. They will listen to the heart and lungs, feel the stomach, look inside the ears and mouth.

After the health check has finished, a detailed report is written which will describe the child’s health needs and identify any gaps. It will describe what needs to be done and by whom.

Ongoing Health Checks (Review Health Assessment)

If a child remains a ‘child we care for,’ another health check is arranged every 6 months (under 5 years) or every year (5 years and older). This may be completed by a variety of professionals, health visitors, school health nurse, college nurse or a specialist Phoenix Team Nurse. Depending on the child’s situation, the health check may be carried out at school, home or in the community.

The health check is an ideal opportunity to discuss any health concerns, ask questions and follow up from previous health assessments to make sure actions have been completed. It does not include a physical examination, but we will offer to weigh and measure height. Discussions can focus on all aspects of physical, social and emotional wellbeing.

The nurse will speak with the child’s social worker, carer or key worker as part of ensuring that the health check contains all the relevant information.

The health recommendations will be discussed and agreed with the child/carer during the meeting. We will also discuss what information the child would like to share and with whom dependent on the age and understanding of the child.

Following the CWCF health check, it is good practice to share a summary and the health recommendations with the child’s GP and social worker. The social worker is responsible for sharing this information with the child and their carer.

Helpful links and advice

There is a lot of information available to support health and wellbeing and it can be confusing to know which websites to look at.

The Phoenix Team have collated some suggestions which we hope will support you to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

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Page last reviewed: 30 January, 2023