Children in Care
This section of the website has been written with our children and young people’s consultation group and we are very grateful for their help in making it better. Consultation means that we ask what people think and, most importantly, listen to what they say.
A child in care is a person under the age of 18 who is being looked after by the local authority and is usually living away from their family. Children in care are sometimes also called Looked After Children. These mean the same thing, but our young people tell us that they prefer the words ‘child in care’ so this is what we have used on our website.
‘You’re going through a trauma, everything is strange… I was thinking life has happened, and I am here now, and I don’t even know…’
When you become a child in care it can feel a bit weird in the beginning. Sometimes young people can feel uncomfortable and unsure and that everything is new and unfamiliar; you might feel that you don’t belong at first. But, once you get a relationship and you’ve been there a while, it will feel more normal. Your social worker should explain to you why you are in care and work with you to plan for your future. Your social worker should tell you that you are safe and help to protect you.
It is okay to ask as many questions as you like, even if you’re not sure – especially if you’re not sure! Some questions that other young people have asked are:
- What are you going to do with the information I give you?
- Why am I here? What am I doing here?
- How long am I going to stay here?
- Why did I have to move to a foster carer?
- Why can’t I live with my family?
- Can I still meet/talk to my family?
- Why can I not live with a family member?
- How can I go back to my family?
- What if I want to stay in my placement?
- What if I don’t feel safe/comfortable in my new placement?
- What if I want to move? Can I move my placement?
- Why do I have to go to so many meetings?
- What is going to happen with school?
- What’s going to happen after leaving care?
Talkers, Step Up and Stepping Out
These are our 3 children in care councils, we meet every month, sometimes we eat pizza, sometimes we make big decisions that affect other children in care. You will get to meet other young people and your voice will be heard. We understand and support each other.
People who will help you
When you come into care there are lots of adults whose job it is to make sure that you are okay. It can be hard to know what everyone does, so we have made a list:
A Social Worker is someone you can talk to and express your feelings to. Social workers are a link to your local authority, this is also called a ‘corporate parent’. They visit you and call you, they care about your wellbeing and try their best to make sure that you are okay and to help you when you are struggling so that you do not feel alone. They help with things like forms and planning for the future. Social workers also celebrate your achievements with you.
A Looked After Children’s Nurse will meet with you and help make a plan for your physical and emotional health.
A Designated Teacher for Looked After Children. Every school has a designated teacher, you can talk to your designated teacher about any worries or concerns you have. This can be any worries or concerns you have, it doesn’t have to be only about school. It is their job to make sure that any child in care in their school has the support they need with their education.
A Virtual School Officer will link with your school to make sure that you have the support you need – this is called a ‘personal education plan’ or PEP. They can also help to organise other activities like after school clubs.
An Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) is a social work manager – it is their job to make sure that everything that should be happening for you is happening. They organise a meeting called a Review with everyone involved to check this out. You can be in charge (chair) this meeting and help to decide who will be there and what is to be talked about.
An Independent Advocate is someone who will help to make sure everyone pays attention to what you think and what you want. Independent means that they do not work for social care. They help to make sure that you know what your rights are and are able to speak up about the things you feel strongly about. In Hillingdon we have Coram Voice – you can contact Coram yourself on:
Freephone: 0808 800 5792
SMS/Text: 07758 670 369
The Helpline is open every weekday from 9.30am to 6pm and on Saturday from 10.00am to 4.00pm.