Children in Care

Frequently Asked Questions for this Service

Question: Where will I live if I become 'Looked After'?

Answer: The place where you live when you become looked after is called your placement. There are different types of placements as everyone is different and needs different things.

Foster placement - This is where you live with another family in their home. The people who look after you will be called foster carers.

Kinship placement - This is where you live with someone else in your family other than your Mum or Dad.

Residential care - This is where a number of young people live together in the same house. You are looked after by a team of staff.

You also have a key worker, someone who will get to know you and provide you with the support you need.

Short break care - This is where you are looked after for short periods, usually on a regular basis.

Your social worker, and if possible your parents, will go with you to meet your new carers and help you settle into your new placement. Your social worker will have already given your new carers all the information they need to look after you. This might be the things you like to eat, what you enjoy doing in your spare time. Your new carer will also have been told about the reason for you being looked after.

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Question: Will I see my family?

Answer: You have a right to see your family. Your social worker will make sure you are able to keep in touch with your family and any other people who are important to you. This is often called ‘contact’. This could be visits, letters and telephone calls. Your views and wishes should be listened to when decisions are being made about contact.

We want you and your family to enjoy contact. We want it to be regular and reliable. If for some reason contact is difficult your social worker will try to help you sort this out. You can choose not to have contact but you should know your social worker has a duty to tell your parents how you are doing even if you are not seeing them.

Most contact is encouraged. However, any contact that you have must be right and safe for you. If contact is seen as unsafe, a court can make a decision about who you see, how often and whether visits should be supervised. Contact may even be stopped altogether. The court’s decision is written down and called a ‘contact order’

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Question: What is it like living with a foster family?

Answer: When you go to stay with a foster family, your foster carers will treat you as part of the family. They are there to look after you, to listen to you and to keep you safe.

All sorts of people become foster carers and every foster family is different. There may be one or two carers. They may have their own children or foster other children. The foster carer may be a kinship carer - that is a member of your own family who has been approved by Childrens Services to look after you.

Foster carers get some money from Childrens Services. This is to pay for your clothes, food, outings, activities and pocket money. This is called a ‘fostering allowance’. Foster carers also have their own social worker who supports them to do their job properly.

Your Social Worker will work hard to find you a foster family that they think is right for you. This is very important, especially if you are going to stay there for a long time.

Your foster family should have a similar ethnic and cultural background to you. This means that they should speak the same language, and have the same religious beliefs and celebrations as you. If this is not possible, then your social worker will try to find a family that understands your background and culture.

If possible, you will meet your foster family before you go to live there. It is probably going to feel very strange, at first, living with a different family. All families have different ways of doing things and different rules. Your foster carers and social worker will talk to you about the rules and write some of this down for you in a placement information record which is explained later. As you spend more time with your foster family you will begin to settle in and get used to how things works.

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Question: What about my education?

Answer: When you become looked after we try to make sure you don’t have to deal with too many changes.

This means we would like you to stay at the school or college where you go at the moment. However, this may not be possible if your placement is too far away. Your social worker will talk to you about what is going to happen with your education and explain any changes.

We believe that a good education is important. We want to support you to do your best. One of the ways we do this is to work with you and your school on a Personal Education Plan. This is a written plan which includes any extra help you might need whilst you are living away from home.

You have a right to be involved in all the decisions that are made about your life (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,( Article 12)

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Question: What about my health?

Answer: You have a right to good health care. You will continue to have regular checks with a dentist, optician and any other health workers that you would usually see. Your carer/s and social worker will be making sure this happens.

When you first become looked after you will also be offered a health assessment. Either a nurse or doctor will check your health and answer any questions you may have. If you stay looked after for a long time you will have a health assessment once a year.

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Question: What if I have been placed off the Isle of Wight?

Answer: We are still responsible for you whether you are living on or off the Isle of Wight. You are entitled to the same rights and visits by your social worker.

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Question: Do people take any notice of what I want to happen?

Answer: The law says we have to take notice of your wishes and feelings. We know it's right that you should have a say and that things work better if you are involved. It's important for you to say what YOU want when your Social Worker, your family and the people caring for you are making plans and at your reviews.

If there are things you are not happy with, it's best to talk to your carers and your Social Worker who can usually sort things out. Additionally, you can always contact the National Youth Advocacy Service, (NYAS), for support on 0300 330 3131.

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Question: What about clothes and pocket money?

Answer: Whether you're living in a foster home or a Children's Residential Unit, your carers will receive money from Children's Social Care to provide you with clothes and give you regular pocket money. Of course you may have your own clothes you want to take with you too.

When you need new clothes, your carers may go shopping with you or let you buy your own depending on your age and the situation.

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Question: What happens if I behave badly and what punishments can be used?

Answer: Rules are necessary to help people get on and live well together. We all have times when we get upset and angry and your carers will understand this and try to help you through your troubles.

However, bad behaviour and breaking of the rules may mean that your carer has to take action. This might be a telling off and also might include something like extra chores, a reduction in pocket money (to repair damage for example) or removal of music/television from your bedroom for a specified period if it is causing a problem. Any punishment should fit the misbehaviour.

There are rules to protect you from unfair punishments. For example, your carers cannot:
• swear at you or threaten you

• stop your meals (although if your actions cause you to miss a meal you may have to prepare yourself a snack)

• make you wear inappropriate clothing (for example, keeping you in your night wear all day to prevent you leaving the house)

• stop you seeing your family just because you misbehaved

• stop you seeing others who are involved with your welfare (eg your Social Worker, an advocate etc)

• lock you in your room, though it is acceptable for you to be sent to your room for bad behaviour

• hit you or handle you roughly, although carers may need to hold you tightly to stop you causing harm to yourself or others

If you think that you have been treated unreasonably by your carer, discuss it with your Social Worker.

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Question: What about my hobbies and sports?

Answer: Lots of young people are involved in sports and/or have hobbies and interests that they like to pursue in their spare time. If you would like to continue with a hobby, begin a new interest or join a club or sports team, speak to your carer and Social Worker about it. They may be able to help you find a local club and/or help with necessary travel arrangements and costs.

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Question: What happens if I move placement?

Answer: It is not always possible for young people to stay in the same Residential Unit or foster home throughout the time they are looked after. If it becomes necessary for you to move home, your Social Worker will talk to you about it and ask what you want to happen. You will be involved with the arrangements and will know about the move before it happens, unless there is an emergency. This will mean that you will have time to get used to the idea and tell your friends about the plans. Your belongings will be moved in appropriate bags / containers. They will NOT be moved in bin liners as this is unacceptable.

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Question: How long will I be 'Looked After'?

Answer: Wherever possible we will work hard for you to go home but we must be sure that this is right and safe for you. Your views are important and you will be involved in deciding what is best for you. There will be meetings to plan for your future. These are your meetings and we will do everything we can to help you have a say.

These are some of the sorts of plans we make for children and young people:

To be looked after for a series of short breaks

To be looked after for a short time with a plan for you to go back home to your parents or other family members

To be looked after on a long-term basis either with foster carers, kinship carers or in a residential placement

To be adopted by a family who will become your legal parents.

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Question: Why do I need to be 'Looked After' by Children's Services?

Answer: There are lots of different reasons why children and young people become looked after. Your social worker should explain to you why you need to be looked after and can answer any questions you have about this.

Sometimes a court makes a decision about where a child or young person lives. If this has happened to you, this is called a ‘care order’. Other children and young people become looked after with the agreement of their parents. This is called ‘being accommodated’.

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