When you come in to care
When you come in to care
When you come into care there is usually a meeting with your foster carer, your social worker, your family and you to agree how you will be cared for. The meeting will discuss things like bedtimes, coming in times, pocket money and when you will see your family.
Your social worker's job is to help you move into care, explain why you are in care, and to work out a care plan with you and your family. This might include the court if it is involved.
Your social worker must visit you while you live in care, in your foster placement or children's home. They must see you within the first week of coming into care and then every six weeks.
You can ask for your social worker to visit you more often if you need to see him or her. Your social worker should make sure that you are seen alone and that your wishes and feelings about where you are living and your care plan are known and understood.
Your social worker should make sure that you can see your family and other important people and they should contact your school to let them know what is happening and to arrange a meeting to discuss your education.
Your social worker should also arrange for you to have a health check.
You will be introduced to your Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) who will meet you and support you when you have a review meeting. They will also discuss who you want at your meetings and will support you to have your say. An IRO is separate from the social work team and it is their job to make sure that your plan is right for you and that everyone is doing the best they can to support you.
Living in care
Sometimes you can live with a family member or friend who can be approved as your foster carer.
Foster carers are ordinary people who have been specially chosen and trained to care for young people who are not able to live with their own families. When you live in foster care you live in the carer's home and they look after you.
There are many different types of foster carers - some live on their own, others have their own children.
All foster carers are there to make you feel comfortable and will give you the help and support you need.
We will do our best to make sure the foster carers that you are with are the right match for you.
Being in foster care can last a short or a long time. How long you stay will depend on what is best for you. No matter how long you are in foster care it is normal to miss your family and friends and even your pets. You can usually stay in contact with your family and friends - you can write to them, send text messages, telephone them, or visit them (unless there is a particular reason why you can't).
If you are in a children's home you will live with other young people who are also in care. You will be cared for by a team of friendly staff, but you will have a named person sometimes called a 'key worker' who will be your allocated worker and will be your special link person.
Moving into care can feel scary. Having to live with people you do not know a lot about is hard. You should have the chance to visit your foster carers or children's home before you move in.
If this happens it is called a planned placement move. You should be given some information about the foster carers, or a 'pen picture' of them, your social worker will give this to you.
You may have come into care without any time to plan and this is called an emergency placement. It may be the case that you stay in your emergency placement only a few days or weeks before a planned placement can be found for you.
If you have committed an offence the court can, in some special circumstances, place you into the care of the local authority.
Leaving care - ten things the law says you are entitled to when leaving care
You have a right to have your needs assessed before you leave care to make sure that you leave at a time that is right for you. You should know what support you will be getting and understand what your options are if things do not work out for the best.
It is important to know that you can stay in care until you are 18, unless you agree that you are ready to leave before.
Sometime after your 15th birthday you should be involved in putting together a My Care Plan, and you should be in agreement with what it says. By the time you are 16 years and 3 months old, the My Care Plan should be in place, explaining the help you will be getting in preparing to leave care and the support you will receive after you have left.
It should tell you how the council will help you achieve the things you want in life, such as a place of your own, doing well in school, having your own money to spend, going on a training course, or getting the job that you want. The My Care Plan is very important to you, as it will say exactly what help you should be getting before, during and after you leave care. Once agreed, it should be kept to by all those who have signed it.
When the time comes for you to leave care, you should be able to look after yourself, keep yourself healthy, continue with your learning, enjoy and achieve things in life, stay in touch with family and friends, and be confident about who you are.
Children's services should make sure that you have a Personal Adviser (PA). This could be your current social worker or another worker. It is their job to keep in touch with you, check that you are alright and help you in getting what you need. To do this they must make sure that your My Care Plan is followed, reviewed and kept up to date.
Your local authority must make sure that you have somewhere 'suitable to live'. This means that it has to be right for you and, above all, safe. It is important that wherever you prefer to live, you make sure that your local authority puts this into your My Care Plan. In some cases it will be possible for you to continue living with your foster carers. This is called Staying Put. Your social worker and PA will talk to you about this. You can decide to return home if this is what you and your family wish.
Until you are 18, children's services must arrange for your financial support to help you pay for the things you need to live on, like food, clothing, travel, hobbies and your accommodation. They have to make sure that you are not any worse off than if you were on benefits. Once you are 18, and if you are not in employment or full-time education, you can claim benefits. However, your local authority should continue to give you financial help for things like the costs of your education and training, if that is what they have agreed to do. In order that children's services keep to their promises, they should make sure that all agreed support is written into your My Care Plan.
Your Personal Adviser should help you to keep in contact with relatives and also friends you have met whilst in care.
You have a right to be involved in all major decisions, including when you leave care, where you go to live and what support you receive.
Although you have left care you are still entitled to let children's services know and, if necessary, to complain if you are not satisfied with the support you are getting.
Remember: You also have the right to have an advocate to help you do this.
The law says that you have a right to see written information that is about you. This includes children's services files and many young people would like help in getting access to these.
You have a right to be told, and to be given information, about all the services that you are entitled to use once you leave care. This includes training, employment, further and higher education courses, and housing advice.