What Does Looked After Mean?

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Becoming looked after, or being in care, means that Rhondda Cynon Taf Childrens Services are responsible for deciding who looks after you and where you live.

You might become looked after because people were worried about your safety.

Your social worker will speak to you and your family about where you will live, go to school and how to help you to keep in touch with the people that are important to you.  You should always be included in these decisions about your life.

If you feel you are not being listened to you can speak to an adult you trust, your social worker, your Independent Reviewing Officer or an advocate.

You can watch this helpful video by Childline which talks about being in foster care.

How Did I Become Looked After?

There are 2 ways children become looked after:

  • A Care Order made by a family court.
  • Being Accommodated with parents/guardian’s agreement.

What Is A Care Order?

A Care Order means the court has decided that Childrens Services should share parental responsibility with your parents to keep you safe and to make important decisions for you. During the court process, you will have a Children’s Guardian who will meet with you and who will represent you in court.

What Does ‘Accommodated’ Mean?

If you are accommodated it means that Children’s Services and your parents have agreed that is in your best interest to be looked after whilst you and they plan for your future.

What’s The Difference Between Being On A Care Order And Being Accommodated?

When you are accommodated, Children’s Services don’t share parental responsibility for you, so your social worker will need your parent’s consent for lots more things.

If you are unsure whether there’s a Care Order in place or if you’re accommodated then ask your social worker.

What Is A Care & Support Plan?

Every looked after child or young person has a Care and Support Plan that the social worker completes with you and your family. It covers contact, your placement, health, education, and future plans, and says who should do what with you and for you.

A copy of your Care and Support Plan is available to you if you don’t already have one.

How Often Should I Be Visited?

Your social worker should visit you within the first week of you moving in, and then at least once every 6 weeks for the first year.

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.

Advocates

  • 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. They will be able to recommend what to do next or put you in touch with the right people or organisations.

Here are some helpful organisations that can offer advice, information, and support.

Meic – Helpline service for children and young people up to the age of 25 in Wales.

The Mix – The UK’s leading support service for young people. We are here to help you take on any challenge you’re facing.

Childline – Get help and advice about a wide range of issues, call us on 0800 1111, talk to a counsellor online, send Childline an email or post on the message boards.

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