This page provides lots of information and advice for children and young people who are in the care of Bath and North East Somerset.
It will provide information about the people that can help and support you, inform you of your rights, give information about your education, health and the support available to you when you leave care.
Follow the below links for information on:
When you are looked after by Children’s Services, you are usually still able to see your family and this is something that your Social Worker will talk to you about. We will make sure that you see your family in a way that is best for you. How this happens will depend on your age and the reason for you coming into care.
Staying in touch is also called “contact”. Contact may mean frequent visits, visits during holidays, or letters, phone calls and cards. Contact may also mean how you stay in touch with friends, not just family.
All contact arrangements are discussed at your reviews and are one of the things included in your care plan. It is important that you let someone know what you want, how contact is going or if anything is upsetting you about contact, so the right arrangements can be made.
Most young people in care live in foster homes. This means living with a family who Bath and North East Somerset has approved of as Foster Carers. Sometimes friends or relatives of children in care can be approved as Foster Carers. They would have to be fully assessed, just like any ordinary foster carers.
When deciding where you will be living your wishes are taken into consideration, along with keeping you near to your friends, family and school. The Social Worker will also have to think about whether it is better to keep brothers and sisters together.
Any changes to where you are living can be discussed at your Looked After Review which gives you a good chance for you to have your say.
It is important that all children and young people have someone that they can turn to for help, advice and support.
This section lists some of the adults that you may come into contact with whilst you are in care and explains a little about the work they do and the sort of help and support they can offer you.
You will have your own Social Worker while you are living away from home. You can get in touch with them whenever you need them.
Your Social Worker will:
- Visit you at least once a month.
- Be a link with your family.
- Work with you in planning your future.
- Make sure your wishes and feelings are listened to and ensure you understand the decisions made about your care.
Your Foster Carer will:
- Look after you on a day to day basis
- Talk with you about family, health, school, friends, clothes and money
- Help you say what you want at meetings
- Talk with you about your wishes, hopes and fears for the future
- Be there for you when you are upset
- Encourage you to do well at school and at any other interest you have outside of school
- Help keep you healthy
- They should treat you the same as any other member of their family and respect your individuality.
Every school must have a designated teacher for Children in Care. Their job is to support the children in their school who are in care. The government says that the designated teacher should:
- Make sure that every child has a personal education plan (PEP)
- Understand ‘care’ and the impact of care upon education
- Make sure that educational information is transferred quickly between agencies and individuals
- Act as an advocate (supporter) for Children in Care in their school
An Advocate makes sure your views and feelings are heard and that you feel fully involved in decisions that are being made about your life and ensure your rights are met. Advocates can also help you speak up for yourself or put your views across for you. An Advocate can go to a meeting with you, or go on your behalf and can support you with making and resolving a complaint.
What you say to your Advocate is confidential unless he/she thinks you are in danger. If they think you are in danger they will take action to keep you safe and tell you who they have passed the information on to.
If you think you would like to know more about how an Advocate could help you, ask your carers or Social Worker. You can contact them yourself at Off the Record tel 01225 312 481 firstname.lastname@example.org
What they do for you:
- They are in charge of your Looked After Reviews and you should have the same IRO at all your LAC reviews. This is so you can both get to know each other.
- They will meet you before the meeting to see what you want to say at your meeting.
- They ensure care plans are right for you and approve any changes.
- They write down and send out the recommendation from your LAC reviews.
- They ensure that everything in your care plan is happening.
- They ensure that everyone is focused on meeting your needs.
- They ensure timely and appropriate actions are taken to meet your needs.
When you first become looked after you, your parents, carers, and your Social Worker meet to make sure all the important arrangements have been made. This includes contact with friends and family, how you will get to school and any health issues, as well as the things you like to do etc. This helps everyone get to know each other. This may happen before you move in but, if not, it will happen within the first 3 days.
The next review meeting will happen within the next 28 days and this is a meeting where you will meet your Independent Reviewing Officer (see under people that support me) and from then on your reviews will happen every six months.
Why do I have these meetings?
The reason review meetings happen is to give you and the people helping you an opportunity to discuss your living arrangements and everything else that affects your care. Any changes to your care can be discussed at your review and it is important that you have your views taken into account.
Who comes to my reviews?
Your Social Worker will ask you who you think should come to your review. Usually, this would include the Independent Reviewing Officer, who is in charge of the meeting, your Social Worker, your carer, your parents/family, your advocate and most importantly YOU.
How can I get my say?
As it is your meeting, it is important that your views are heard.
Your Social Worker will talk about the future plans with you before the review and you can tell them how you feel.
If you feel unable to come to the review, your Social Worker, or your Advocate (see people that support me), will let people know what you think and feel. You can also have an Advocate at the meeting with you.
Another way to get your views across is by filling in the consultation form. You will be sent a consultation form before the review meeting. This is for you to write down all the things you want raised at the meeting. An Advocate, or anyone else that you trust, can help you fill this in if you don't want to do it on your own.
Before the meeting, the Independent Reviewing Officer will offer you the opportunity to talk to him/her on your own about the meeting and also the plans that have been made for you.
What happens at the meeting?
Before the meeting your Social Worker will have written a report and you should be able to see this beforehand. The report covers things like your health, how you are getting on with your education, what other activties you are doing, if things are OK where you are living, and if you are happy with the contact you have with your family.
The Independent Reviewing Officer will start the meeting by asking everyone there to say who he or she is. The Independent Reviewing Officer will give everyone a chance to talk about how things are, the plans that have been made and any changes that may need to be made. The Independent Reviewing Officer will be taking notes at the meeting of what has been recommended.
What is my care plan?
Children's Services have to write down what they will do to help you. This is called a Care Plan.
It says what we are going to do to support your health, education, religion, culture and hobbies, and how long it is thought you will need to be looked after for. It is also agreed how Children's Services can help you have contact with family and friends.
Depending on your age, you may be asked to sign your Care Plan, along with you parents, Social Worker and their manager.
Your Care Plan is discussed at your looked after reviews and it is at these meetings that any changes can be agreed.
When people say 'the law' when talking about children's welfare and responsibilities of others, they're usually meaning The Children Act. This law is about children and young people and how they should be protected and cared for. There is also something called the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and Britain has signed up to these principles.
This guide outlines your rights and the responsibilities of those who care for you.
The local authority must protect you if they think you are in danger. They have to listen if they are told you are at risk of harm and must look into what is happening to you. In some circumstances this may led to you coming into “care”.
Looked After under a Care Order
This means that the Local Authority has gone to Court and asked them what they think is best for you. If an Order is made by a Court regarding your welfare it is called a Care Order, it can mean that you are looked after in foster care or with someone in your family. It means that The Local Authority has parental responsibility for you.
If 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.
There may also be someone who wants to have contact with you. That person can then ask the Court for an order. You may even want to have contact with someone yourself, and you can apply to the Court in the same way
Discharging a Care Order
There are several ways in which being looked after by the County Council can come to an end. Generally speaking, 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.
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.
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 do not have parental responsibility
If you have been "Accommodated" without a Care Order, the arrangement may come to an end at any time if agreement is reached between the County Council and your parents. If a parent withdraws their consent for their child to be “accommodated” but the County Council don’t agree, the County Council would have to ask the court for an Order and again you would be asked what you want to happen.
If you are over 16, you should have the major 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.
See 'What happens when I leave care?' on this site for information about the Moving On Service.
Files and Case Records
Children’s Social Care have 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 a right to find out what has been recorded about them by Children’s Social Care under the Data Protection Act.
If you have any problems or complaints about how Children’s Services are looking after you, try telling your carer, your Social Worker or their manager. Often they are the people who know you well. They will do their best to try to help you.
You can also get in touch with the Complaints Procedure Manager tel: 01225 477931. It is his/her job to sort out any complaints that you may have and you’re Social Worker or carer will help you with this. The Local Authority has a complaints procedure and you will have been given a leaflet about this when you first came into care.
The Adoption and Children Act 2002, states that local authorities have a duty to make arrangements for the provision of advocacy for any child making a complaint or thinking of making a complaint.
What does an Advocate do?
- They make sure your views and feelings are heard and you feel fully involved in decisions that are being made about your life.
- Make sure people who make decisions about you meet your rights.
- Help you to speak up for yourself or put your views across for you.
- An Advocate can go to the meeting with you or go on your behalf.
- Support you with making and resolving a complaint.
What you say to your Advocate is confidential unless he/she thinks you are in danger. If they thought you were in danger they would tell you who they have passed on information to and keep you informed about what is being done with that information.
For more about your rights, why not take a look at the www.rights4me.org.uk website?
It is a fact that children and young people who are in care sometimes do less well at school than other children. We want this to change.
A good education is a very important part of developing and growing up. It will help improve your life chances, such as getting the job you want, going to college/university etc.
Going to school means that:
- You can learn new skills
- You can make friends and learn to get along with people.
Remember – learning can be fun!
We want to see all our looked after children and young people receiving the right education so that they can do as well as possible.
Your education must be a priority when planning with your Social Worker and carer. You will have a Personal Education Plan (PEP) which forms part of your Care Plan. If you are attending school, they will hold a budget to help pay for the things identified in your PEP.
Every school (but not every Academy) should have a Designated Teacher for children in care. This is someone who has an interest in helping to support you at school. If you don't know who this teacher is in your school, ask your Social Worker to tell you.
When you are in care, the local authority must look after your general health care. This includes:
Making sure you are registered with a doctor and a dentist.
Making sure you have a health assessment each year - you may wish to talk about this with your Social Worker who can then get in touch with the designated nurse who is always happy to come and visit young people. The designated nurse makes sure your health care needs are part of your care plan and that health is part of your Review discussions.
It is important we find out vital information about your health as you go into care, e.g., whether you may have certain allergies, asthma, epilepsy etc.
Staying healthy includes:
- Healthy eating
- Taking regular exercise
- Emotional well being
- Sexual health
You have the right to good health care from a doctor, nurse, dentist, optician or a consultant when you need it. It is also important that you look after your own health. There is lots of information about how to stay healthy on the internet (the Mind, Body and Soul website for example) and at your local doctor's surgery. Your Social Worker or carer can get you any information you need.
Do other people see my medical notes or files?
Usually other people are not allowed to see your medical notes or files. Anything you say to your doctor or any other health professional is confidential unless they are worried that you may be in danger of harm. In that case they would have to pass on information to your social worker but they should tell you if they do this.
We work with young people who are still in foster care or who have left foster care aged 16 to 21 or 24 if the young person is continuing in education. When young people reach the age of 16 the team will work with young people to complete a needs assessment and pathway plan. This assessment and plan looks at a young person’s future needs in a number of areas: health, accommodation, education, training, employment, support, money and practical skills. This gives young people an opportunity to start thinking about where they want to be living in the future and what their future goals are. We offer practical, emotional and some financial support to ensure young people have suitable accommodation, contact with their families and previous foster carers, access to education, training and employment and access to health services.
See the ‘From Care to Adulthood’ page for more information.