Being In Care
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.
Files and Case Records
Childrens’s Social Care has to keep written information and records about every young person who is Looked After. This information is kept in a separate file by your Social Worker and locked away in a filing cabinet. Any reports prepared on you should be discussed fully with you and you can ask to see your file.
All children and young people have the right to find out what has been recorded about them by the Council you can request to access your information to any member of staff or send an email to FOI@wrexham.gov.uk. More information for this can be found at;
Quality of Care Review
Wrexham County Borough Council carries out monitoring which looks at and aims to improve the quality of foster care provided by the fostering service.
A written report of this review can be found at: WCBC Quality of Care Review