Looked After Children and Care Leavers – What’s What and Whose Who?

Do you have questions about being in care? Here is some information that may help you understand what goes on and who is there to help you.

What does being ‘looked after’ mean?

A Looked After Child is a child who is being cared for by the Local Authority. They might be living:

  • with foster parents
  • at home with their parents under the supervision of social services
  • in residential children’s homes
  • in other residential settings like schools or secure units


Children might have been placed in care voluntarily by parents struggling to cope. Or Children’s Services may have become involved because a child was at significant risk of harm.

Why are you being looked after?

There are lots of different reasons why children and young people cannot live with their family. Sometimes parents ask for help because they feel they are struggling to look after their children or sometimes it might be because it might be safer for a child not to live at home.


Looked After under a Care Order

This means that the Local Authority has gone to Court and asked the Judge what they think is best for you.   When a Court makes a Care Order, this means that the Local Authority then shares responsibility for a child with the parents.

Parental responsibility is a set of legal rights and responsibilities including making sure a child:

  • has somewhere to live
  • is looked after
  • is kept safe

Parental responsibility also gives the right to make important decisions about a child’s life like:

  • who looks after them
  • where they live
  • how they are educated

When either a Care Order is made, or you are looked after under a voluntary arrangement, Children’s Social Care must make sure that your family and friends can stay in touch with you.  This is your right. The Court will want to know about these contact arrangements whenever it hears about your case. Children’s Social Care may sometimes feel that it would be better for you if

you did not have visits or letters or calls from someone in particular – especially if they think that you are at risk from them.

If you are Looked After without a Care Order your rights are the same but this is known as a voluntary arrangement between the Local Authority and your family.


Discharging a Care Order

There are several ways in which being looked after by the County Council can come to an end.  A Care Order finishes automatically when you reach the age of 18.  A Care Order can be ended before then if a Court agrees.  Even if Children’s Social Care feels that your Care Order is still needed, you still have the right to go to court and ask for it to be ended. The Court will hear from both sides and will then decide whether to keep the Care Order or not. Your Social Worker will advise you on how to get the help of a solicitor, even if he/she does not agree with what you want to do.


In Care without a Care Order

If you come into care under a voluntary arrangement between your parents and the local authority, it is called Section 20 and the Local Authority does not have parental responsibility.

If you have become Looked After without a Care Order, the arrangement may come to an end at any time, if agreement is reached between the Local Authority and your parents.

If a parent withdraws their consent for their child to be Looked After but the County Council doesn’t agree, the County Council has to ask the court for an Order and you would be asked what you want to happen. If you are over 16, you should have the most say in whether the arrangement ends – your parents may be consulted, but in most circumstances you can choose to remain looked after or leave even if they don’t agree.


Your Care and Support Plan?

When you are looked after, plans must be made for all the important things in your life. The main plan is called your Care & Support Plan which is written information that says how you should be cared for and describes your future plans.

You will have other plans too for things like where you are living, your health and education. All of the plans should link together to make sure you are getting all the help and support you need while you are looked after.

Your Care & Support Plan will include:-

  • Why you are looked after, what needs to happen for you to go home or if you can’t go home what the long term or ‘permanency’ plan is
  • Your wishes and feelings
  • Contact with your family and friends
  • Your health
  • Education and training
  • How you wish to follow your religion, beliefs and culture.
  • Hobbies and Interests
  • What people (like Social Workers and foster carers) will do to help and support you
  • What your plans are now and for the future
  • What your needs are


Your Care & Support Plan will be looked at in your Looked After Child Review meetings, to see how the plans are going and to check if any changes are needed.


If you would like more information on this topic or you have questions please call into the INFO Shop or contact us on 01978 295600 / Instant message.  If you leave us a message we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Advocacy and Your Rights

When you are looked after, lots of decisions are made about you and your life. The people who are responsible for your care must make sure they find out your views, wishes and feelings about anything that concerns you.

Roles of Professionals

Here are the people who are there to help and support you.

Safeguarding People Team (SPT)

The Safeguarding People Team (SPT) The Safeguarding People Team (SPT) provide advice and support to other organisations that the Local Authority works with for both Adults and Children & Young…

Emergency Duty Team – (EDT)

Emergency Duty Team The Social Services Emergency Duty Service is provided by the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) and aims to provide a high quality social work response to emergencies that…

Single Point of Access (SPOA)

S.P.O.A stands for Single Point of Access. Whenever anyone is worried about a young person for example a teacher in your school, or the school nurse they complete a referral…

Looked after Children Team

Looked After Children and Leaving Care team The core business of the team can be broadly split into the following 3 categories:- To hold case responsibility for children and young…

Assessment and Intervention Team

The Assessment and Intervention Team (AIT) carry out social work assessments of children who may be in need of care and support and children who may be in need of protection

Family Support Team

Family Support Team  Wrexham’s Children Services Family Support Team provides a social work service to families in Wrexham who have been assessed as requiring long term intervention. This can be…


Fostering Team   Wrexham Fostering Service is a registered service that provides foster placements for children and young people from Wrexham who are aged up to their 18th birthday, although…

Prevention and Support Services (PASS)

Prevention and Support Services Prevention and Support Services work alongside Wrexham Children’s Social Care teams to provide support to families. The aim of this support is to help protect children…

North Wales Adoption Service

North Wales Adoption Service   The North Wales Adoption Service covers the six Local Authorities in North Wales: Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Wrexham and Ynys Môn. These authorities are now…

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