Looked after children
What being in care means
Being in care, or being looked after is when a child or young person lives away from their home. They may live with a foster carer, in a residential care unit, with family members or friends. There are many different reasons why children and young people might be in care. Parents may be unable to look after their children due to illness or family problems. Courts sometimes decide it is not safe for a child to live at home. Children and young people in care are not different, they are just in a different situation.
You might be in care yourself or know someone who is and want to help support them.
The legal bit
A young person may be on a Care Order which means that the decision that they should be looked after by the local authority has been made in Court with help from Children’s Social Care.
A young person may be accommodated. This means that the council and your parents have agreed to share responsibility for the young person's care. The parents will still be part of any decisions that are made about how they are looked after.
Having a Say - your rights
Young people in care have rights. Every child and young person under the age of 18 years has rights no matter who you are, where you live, or what your situation is . It’s important for young people to know what their rights are so they know when they are not being treated properly.
United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (also known as UNCRC)
This is a list of 42 promises that governments have made to children and young people.
All the rights apply to every child and young person but there are 5 that are particularly important to children and young people who are looked after/in care:
- Article 9 - Children and Young People in care have a right to keep in regular contact with your parents as long as this is the best thing for you and it is safe
- Article 12 – Children and Young People in care have a right to be respected and have their views listened to when decisions are being made that affect them
- Article 16 – Children and Young People in care have a right to privacy
- Article 20 – Children and Young People in care have a right to be looked after properly by people who respect their language, culture and religion
- Article 25 – Children and Young People in care have a right to have their situation reviewed regularly if they live away from home and are looked after by the local authority
If YOU are in care and need help to make sure YOUR rights are being respected, speak to YOUR social worker, whoever is caring for YOU.
YOU can ask for an Independent Advocate
Advocacy Independent Advocacy
If you are involved with children’s services you can ask for an Independent Advocate at any time to help you raise a concern, get across what you want to say at a meeting or to make a complaint. An Independent Advocate is someone who doesn’t work for Bracknell Children’s Services. They will make sure you get your views across and your voice heard. They are on your side and work for you. This person could also be someone you might know already. A person you trust like a teacher or youth worker. You can ask them if they could support you.
Contact Louise MacLennan, Participation Officer on 01344 351 546
Making a complaint
If you are involved with children’s social care and are unhappy about a decision that has been made or you are in care and are unhappy about how you are being looked after you should tell someone you trust so they can help you sort things out. You can speak to whoever is caring for you, your social worker, your Independent Reviewing Officer. A youth worker, a teacher, an independent advocate or another person you trust.
If things don’t get sorted out and you are still not happy you can make a complaint. Making a complaint will not affect the support and care that you get; it will mean that things get sorted out. You can talk to your Social Worker or a Manager or if you don’t want to you can text or fill in the complaints form.
To make a complaint you can text 07795 308 244
Or phone 01344 351 737
Looked After Children's Participation Officer - Louise MacLennan on 01344 351456
Looked after Chldren's Youth Worker - Marion Marshall on 01344 311595
National Youth Advocacy Service
We offer information, advice, advocacy and legal representation to children, young people and vulnerable adults through a network of dedicated paid workers and volunteers throughout England and Wales.
Call 0808 808 1001
NCAS (National Care Advisory Service)
Gives advice to young people in care and those leaving care
What Support Children and Young People in care get Overview
They will have a named social worker who will be responsible for their care.
The Social Worker is there to help and support the children and young people in care. Social Workers will visit the children regularly and talk to them on their own. The social worker will talk with them about the long term plans, make sure they understand what is happening, why you are being “looked after” and help them with any problems.
Children and young people in care will also have an Independent Reviewing Officer. This person will make sure that the children are able to share their views, wishes and feelings at their Looked after Child Review meetings. This person can challenge any decisions if they feel they are not best for the children and help you make sure they are getting the right support. The Independent Reviewing officer can also help them to understand the situation they are in and their care plan.
Children and Young People in care are offered annual health checks, this is to make sure any problems are picked up early and sorted out.
When Children and Young People are in care the local authority must make sure they get the best education that meets their needs. They will be supported by the Virtual School Team who will support them with a Personal Education Plan which is done in 20 days of becoming looked after and reviewed every 6 months. It should include things like where they go to school, their achievements, any special education needs they have and any support they need to enable them to be the best they can. In school they will also have a Designated Teacher. They will know who is looked after and there to help the children do the best they can in their learning and if the children have any problems at school they will help them sort them out.
All looked after children have the option to have an Independent Visitor. This is a volunteer who does not work for social care services. They are there to visit, befriend and advise children and young people in care. Children and young people in care will also get the opportunity to take part in activities and spend time with their Independent Visitor outside of their foster/residential placement. Children and Young People in care will be asked about their likes, dislikes and the kind of person they think would be good for them so they can be matched with someone they will get on with.
Leaving Care Service
Under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 Local Authorities have the responsibility to support young people who leave Local Authority Care.
In Bracknell Forest there is The Leaving Care Service that provides support to prepare young people to live independently when they are ready to leave care. They also provide support once young people have left care. They help and advise young people aged 15 to 18-years-old who are still looked after by the local authority as well as 16 to 21-year olds who have left care and up to 25 years if you are in college or university. To receive this service you must have been ‘looked after’ for a total of more than 13 weeks from the age of 14 years and including a day when you were over 16 years old. This excludes children receiving short breaks. As a care leaver there are lots of entitlements that you should know about. Find out more by looking at the Bracknell Leaving Care Service Leaflet on the website or by contacting the The Leaving Care Service 76 Binfield Road, Bracknell, RG42 2AR
Tel 01344 354304
Tel 0161 236 1980
Tel 020 7336 4846