Section 17 Children Act 1989 states:
(1) It shall be the general duty of every local authority to
(a) to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need; and
(b) so far as is consistent with that duty, to promote the upbringing of such children by their families, by providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children’s needs …
(6) The services provided by a local authority in the exercise of functions conferred on them by this section may include [providing accommodation and] giving assistance in kind or … in cash.
Under S17, an assessment is done to decide if a child is “in need” because they need local authority services to “achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development, or to prevent significant or further harm to health or development”. Children with a disability, including mental ill-health, long-term illness or injuries, young carers, children who have committed a crime or whose parent/s is in prison, asylum seeking children and those who have been in hospital or a residential care home for longer than 3 months are automatically classed as a Child in Need (CIN).