A Care Order may be granted (by the Courts) if it is considered unsafe for the child to live at home. A child or young person to whom a Care Order has been granted is classed as 'looked after'. The legal parental responsibility for the looked after child or young person is then either solely placed with the Local Authority or shared between the Local Authority and the child's birth parents.

The Local Authority is responsible for key decisions about the child's welfare and who they live with. Local Authorities can then place a child or young person with a foster carer registered with them, or registered with an IFA. They also control who the child has contact with.