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CiCC your rights

All children have rights. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is a document that sets out the rights that children (those under 18) have. The Convention has 54 parts and include things like:

  • Being treated equally (it doesn't matter about race, colour, sex, language, religion, politics)
  • Being at the heart of decisions (decisions that are taken must be because they are best for you and not adults)
  • Having your opinions heard (you must have the chance to have your opinion heard. Because you live in care you have the right to an advocate to help you if you feel you need help to say what you would like)

An advocate is an independent person who will listen to your views and give you advice, guidance and support to make sure that you are heard. Advocates have helped young people sort out problems, such as bullying, pocket money and arrangements to see family. Advocates will also support young people when they feel they need to make a complaint.


Any young person who is living in care can have an Independent Visitor (IV) if they would like one, and if everyone thinks it is in their best interests. If you are matched with an IV you can expect to meet them regularly throughout the time you are in care. They will befriend you and become a reliable person in your life – someone with whom you can talk, share interests and (hopefully!) have fun. There is a ‘pool’ of IV who are all different. If you are interested in having an IV we will talk to you first about the sort of person you would like to be linked up with and try to find someone who is right for you.

Most independent visitors meet up with their young people every three or four weeks, but it may be more or less often depending on what you agree together. Some examples of the things that young people do with their visitors include going to a café, playing snooker or sport, or simply trying something new. You and your visitor can talk to each other about what you might like to do when you meet up.

If you would like help to get your voice heard, or if you want to know more about Independent Visitors (IV), you can:


At what age can I...?

  • be convicted of a criminal offence
  • open a bank or building society account if the manager allows
  • sign your own passport if you are getting a new one
  • be employed for more than two hours per day outside school hours but not overnight
  • work up to five hours on a Saturday and two hours on a Sunday and five hours during school holidays
  • get a National Insurance (NI) number
  • open an Individual Savings Account (ISA)
  • choose your own GP
  • work full time
  • have sex with another person aged 16 or older with their consent
  • learn to drive all vehicles except medium or heavy goods vehicles
  • join the Army, Royal Navy or Air Force with parental permission
  • donate blood without parental consent
  • leave home without parents' consent
  • get married without parents' consent
  • vote
  • have a tattoo
  • own houses and land and hold a tenancy, or apply for a mortgage

Legal stuff

What R U talkin' about!

When you come into care, from time to time you will hear your social worker talk about section 20, section 31, Children Act 1989, Full Care Order, legal proceedings, Police Protection, Emergency Protection Order. You might read these things in reports or letters.

This is the main part of the law that social workers must follow. It is called primary legislation. It tells your social worker what they must do to make sure you are safe and well looked after when you come into care. It also tells your social worker what they should do to make sure they are making the right decisions about your care and future. Some parts of this Act have been changed over time to alter what needs to be done to support you but much of it still applies.


This is part of the Children Act. It means that even though you live away from your parents they still are the only adults who can make decisions about you and your future. Your social worker can only make suggestions to your parents about what is best for you, but your parents hold the power to make important decisions about you – this is called parental responsibility. As you get older, parents still have this power but they cannot use it in the same way as you start to have more say in your own life.


If your parents and your social worker cannot agree the best way to keep you safe and look after you then they can ask a judge to decide what to do next. Asking a judge to make a decision means that your social worker has started legal proceedings. To help the judge make the decision he or she has to ask other people to speak to you and your parents to try and understand what has happened in your family and if you could return home or if you should stay in care. This is called an assessment; it will usually be written by your social worker and it can sometimes take a long time to do. The people who are working to support you will be able to be part of the assessment and your views have to be included as well.

As part of legal proceedings, where there are serious concerns about your safety and how well your parents can look after you, your social worker may apply for a Care Order (CO) and an Interim Care Order (ICO) may be made. This gives time for more work to be done so that decisions can be made which are best for you.


This is part of the Children Act. It means that your social worker has gone to court (see legal proceedings) and a judge has granted a Care Order (CO). This CO means that your parents cannot make the important decisions about you without your social worker agreeing. Your parents and your social worker share the job of making decisions about you, but it is your social worker who has the final say.


This means that the police can stop you going home until they are sure that you are safe. It can last only a very short time, and then a social worker must become involved. They will then listen to your views and take them into account when making decisions about what should happen next. You may be able to return home or you might be found somewhere else to stay.


This means that your social worker can stop you going home while they make sure that going home will be safe. The EPO lasts for seven days and if your social worker wants your stay in care to be for a longer time, they must ask your parents for permission, or ask a judge to make a Care Order (see section 31).


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Last updated: 20 February 2019 | Last reviewed: 20 February 2019