About Section 17

Under Section 17 of the Children's Act 1989, a child or young person will be considered in need if:

  • they're unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health and development without help from the council 
  • their health or development is likely to be significantly impaired or further impaired without help from the council
  • they have a disability. 

Duty of the council

It's the general duty of the council to:

  • safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need
  • be consistent with that duty by promoting the upbringing of children by their families
  • provide a range and level of services to those children in need. 

Local councils are only under duty to a child in their area. This means a child has to be physically present in the geographical area of the local council to trigger the Section 17 duty.