Being In Care

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Sometimes things happen within families that mean children or young people are not able to live with their parents. This can be for many different reasons including illness, family problems or that due to circumstances, your parents or family are unable to look after you properly.

If this happens to you then the local council will take care of your accommodation and education needs, sometimes this might mean that you live with what is known as a foster family. Depending on your circumstances, your carer(s) can be a temporary or a long-term arrangement. You will be allocated a social worker that helps to make sure you are looked after and they should keep you up to date with what’s happening.

Once you are in the care of social services a plan must be made for how you will be looked after. This will include things like where you are going to live and how often you can see your parents if you and your family wish to keep in touch. The law states that social workers must take notice of your wishes and feelings. Your thoughts and views matter so it’s important for you to say what you want when your social worker, family, and the people caring for you are making plans for the future.

If there are things you’re not happy with, it’s best to talk to your carers or your social worker. There are also organisations that provide an advocacy service to support you whilst you are in care and to help you to deal with any problems you might be having. An advocate is a trained professional, independent to social services, your carer and social worker who can speak on your behalf if necessary.

Social Workers

  • Every child who goes into care will have their own social worker. Social workers are employed by Social Services, a government organisation that is there to help people get the best quality of life
  • Social workers are there to help you and your family and get the support you need and will work to try and make sure you can return home to live with your birth family as soon as possible
  • Your social worker is responsible for making sure your education, health, safety and general well-being are taken care of while you are in care. Every child in care will have a ‘care plan’ which sets out the day-to-day arrangements for your care. You can discuss this with your social worker
  • You will have regular meetings with your social worker throughout your care to see how you are, as well as fixed review meetings to access how the situation is working for you. Your social worker is there to protect and look after you. If you are worried about anything, they are there for you to talk to them
  • They will also be there for you when the time comes to leave care

Children’s Rights Officer

  • Every child in care can access their personal files if they want to. These contain information about you, your family, why you are in care, your care plan, your education and health. The information in the file is confidential to the local authority
  • In exceptional circumstances, you might be denied access to your file. If this happens you can contact the Children’ s Rights Officer in the local authority, who will investigate the reasons why you are not allowed to see the file


  • If you want to make a complaint about Social Services or your social worker, speak to an advocate – this is someone who doesn’t work for Social Services and is trained to be able to help you. They will help get your voice heard and support you in your complaint
  • There are a number of advocacy organisations that can help you, as well as a free confidential telephone advocacy helpline service Meic. Meic will be able to recommend what to do next or put you in touch with the right people or organisations

This section looks at what it’s like being in care, the types of care and the support that’s available to you.

Voices From Care Cymru

The Mix – Being in care

The Mix – Leaving care


Adoption is when you are legally made part of a new family. Some people are adopted at birth and others are adopted later in life if their parents cannot look after them anymore or if they are adopted by a step-mother or father.

Adopted At Birth

Some parents wait until their child is older before telling them that they are adopted and others will tell their child at a young age. It’s the decision of the parents whether or not to tell the child they are adopted at all.

Finding out you are adopted can be a confusing and emotional time so get as much support as you can from family and friends. It is natural to feel angry and upset but try to talk about your feelings as much as you can with your parents. They are there to support you and want to help make it easier – ask as many questions as you want.

The Mix – Finding out you’re adopted.

Some people want to find their birth parents. This might be upsetting for your adoptive parents because they are the ones who love you and raised you. Talk to them and help them understand why you want to meet your birth parents. It is easy to form perceptions of people in your mind and your birth parents may be very different to these and may not meet your expectations, so don’t make any decisions without thinking it through fully and talking to people like your adopted parents or friends. Please note you must be 18 or over to trace your birth parents.

Your adoptive parents are the ones who have raised you, fed you and kept you safe, so show them the respect they have earned and keep them involved with your thoughts. This will be a very hard time for them too and they might be worried about losing you. Whether or not you are blood-related, your adopted parents are still your parents and they are still your family.

Being Adopted

Deciding whether or not you want to be adopted is a huge decision that no-one should pressurise you into making. You will legally be part of a new family and not your birth family so you must be happy with your decision. It doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t see your birth family again, but you must make your wishes clear during court proceedings.

If you feel overwhelmed, try talking to someone outside of the situation like a friend, a friend’s parent, a neighbour, social services or a teacher at school. They will support you during your decision but they cannot make it for you. Alternatively, try calling one of the many organisations dedicated to helping young people, such as MEIC, who will listen and give confidential advice. Remember, adoption does not change who you are, only who is legally taking responsibility for caring for you

Spun Out – Adoption

You can call The Samaritans at any time for free on 116 123 to discuss any issues or problems you may have. You can also chat online with someone from Meic or call the helpline on 0808 80 23456.


Every family has its problems, but sometimes a family might struggle to cope with their problems and you could suffer as a result. Sometimes it is necessary for children to be removed from the family to make sure they are safe, well and looked after.

This is not your fault and is not a punishment. It gives your parents time to get things back on track and gives you the caring environment you need. Sometimes it is necessary for you to be removed because of some form of neglect or abuse and you might have to be looked after by someone else for a while.

  • The local authority will arrange for you to live with a foster carer while your parents get some help. You may only be separated from your family for a short time or it could be a long-term arrangement. However, most foster children do return to their families at some point
  • If you are unable to return to your family, social services will find a long-term foster family to look after you. This might seem like a frightening thought, but social services are trying to do what they consider is best for you. It will be difficult to begin with but try and talk to your new carer about how you feel and things will get better with time
  • A care order is when social services have responsibility for you instead of your parents and lasts until you are 18, unless someone asks the court to remove it
  • Being taken away from your family is very hard. You are likely to feel angry, upset, betrayed by your parents or social services, alone and frightened. It is natural to feel this way but don’t keep your emotions bottled up, talk to social services about how you feel. They work with young people every day and will understand and want to help
  • Although it may not feel like it at times, everyone has your best interests at heart. You might be confused by what is happening or worried about your future so talk to someone. It will help to understand

If you can’t talk to social services or your carer, there are organisations waiting for your call who you can talk to in confidence and for free. See the links below for the phone numbers of people who can help.

You can call The Samaritans at any time for free on 116 123 to discuss any issues or problems you may have. You can also chat online with someone from Meic or call the helpline on 0808 80 23456.

Voices From Care Cymru

The Mix – Being in care