Some children and young people have to live away from their homes and be cared for by someone else. There are lots of reasons why this can happen and it can be a big change from how you do things. This section will answer some of your questions and help you to understand what will happen if you are being Looked After.
What is it?
Being ‘in care’ is when you are looked after by your Local Authority (LA) meaning they are responsible for making sure you are safe and cared for properly. When the court is making a decision on where you should be cared for, they consider what is going to be the best for you and should ask you what your wishes and feelings are about being in care.
If I go into care, where will I go?
There are many different types of care and where you will stay depends on what is best for you. It’s important that you have the right people to care for you and you are living somewhere safe. You may be placed in:
Foster care is when you live with someone else in their home who is not your immediate family. This can be for short or long periods of time depending on what you need. Sometimes you might be the only one there and sometimes you might live with other children and young people who are in care too. Foster Carers have to be checked out before you live with them to make sure that they are able to care for you and keep you safe.
Adoption is when you become part of a family forever and will stay with them. A family will legally ‘adopt’ you and this means they will care for you for as long as you need.
You may live in a residential home if it is best for you. This is where you will live in a house with other children who are in care. Residential homes usually have more than one person that works there so you will have different people caring for you. You will have one person who is responsible for making sure you are happy, healthy and safe.
Family or Friends Care
You might go to stay with someone from your family or a friend if it is possible and they are able to care for you.
What will happen?
If you need to go into care you and your family will have a meeting with your social worker to agree that it is best for you and that they can look for somewhere for you to live. Your family might not think it is the right thing for you and might want to say no to you moving into care. If no one can agree on the best place for you to live they may decide that they need to get the decision from a judge. Your family might not think it is the right thing for you to move away from their care and social services may think it is important for you to might want to move into care, if this happens then your social worker will have to go to court and ask a judge for a ‘care order’. The judge will make sure that you have a Guardian and a solicitor to represent your best interests and to tell the court your wishes and feelings.
If a judge says yes to a care order this means you will go into care and that the Local Authority and your parents will share responsibility for keeping you safe and cared for.
The judge makes and announces the final decision about the best place for you to live so you are safe and well cared for. This is called a judgement.