It’s often hard to keep track of all of the big words that people use when planning or reviewing your care and you may not feel able to ask what they mean. This section explains some of the words that you might hear and what they mean.

Advocate: An advocate is someone who can talk to you about what you want. They can help things in your life to start, change or stop

CAFCASS: Children and Family Advisory and Support Services are a service that helps families who have to go to family courts.

CAMHS: Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services help you when you are feeling sad or worried. They can listen and help you to feel better and you may see someone regularly from CAMHS.

Care Order: a care order is something that the court gives to say that the local authority has parental responsibility for you and they can make decisions for your care.

Care plan: a care plan is a plan that’s written down and says who should look after you and what they should do.

Child In Need: If you are a child in need it means you need some support and services to help you develop and stay safe and healthy. If you have a disability you will be classed as a child in need from when you are born.

Child Protection Conference: this is when significant people in your life who know you well, like your family, social worker, teacher etc. meet together and find ways to keep you safe from harm. An Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) will ask everybody what they think and when they decide on what to do they will make a child protection plan. If you are old enough to understand and you want to go, you can be part of the meeting. If you are too young or don’t want to be there, an advocate can tell them what you want instead.

Child Protection Plan: a child protection plan is a plan of things to keep you safe from harm. It might be because you are being harmed, or at risk of being harmed, by someone. A child protection plan will look at how to keep you safe and will say what everyone has to do.

Core Group Meeting: this is where your social worker, family, teacher etc. (and you if you want to be there) meet to discuss your child protection plan and make sure that everyone is doing the things that the plan says or if they need to change anything.

Emergency Protection Order: this is when a judge says that the local authority can take you out of your home, if it is needed to keep you safe from harm. It can only be for 15 days while people work out what is best for you.

Guardian: is a professional who will help the court by providing information about you which is independent from the social worker.  The judge needs lots of pieces like a jigsaw to help make a decision about your future. The social worker, the guardian for you, your parents and any other expert all give evidence separately as part of the jigsaw. The judge listens carefully to all the evidence and has a duty to look at a number of things in what is called the welfare checklist. This is to make sure that the law is properly considered as this is such a serious decision.

Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO): this is the person who is in charge of your review. They will speak to you about what you want and how you feel and make sure that your plan is the best thing for you. They will make sure that reviews are done properly, that everyone is doing what they should be and that your wishes and feelings are listened to.

Independent Visitor: an independent visitor is someone who is there just for you. They are usually volunteers who want to be friends with you and help you when you’re having a tough time. They aren’t part of the local authority or social care. They are everyday people who want to be a friend to you.

Local Authority: the local authority is an organisation that makes decisions about the area you live in and services in your area.

Looked After Child: is another term used for you being in care and means that the local authority has a responsibility to make sure you are cared for properly

LAC review: a Looked After Child (LAC) review is a review of your care plan and placement when you are in care.

NYAS Caseworker: The Caseworker is appointed to work in tandem with the NYAS Legal team to represent children and young people in court applications with regard to issues of contact and residence. The Caseworker is instructed by the Court and ordered to prepare reports for the Court.

Parental Responsibility: this means who has the responsibility to make decisions about your life in order to keep you safe, healthy and able to develop. Your parents will automatically have parental responsibility but, if you are in care or they can’t keep you safe, the local authority will have parental responsibility or share it with your parents.

Police Protection Order: this is an order that doesn’t have to be given by a judge and is used when you are in immediate danger and need to be removed form a situation. The police can move you from your home for up to 72 hours, to keep you safe while people work out what is best for you or it is safe to go back.

Safeguarding: Safeguarding means keeping you safe and making sure you don’t come to any harm-physically, emotionally or psychologically

Section 17: you may hear someone talk about section 17. This is a section of the Children Act 1989 that says that the local authority have to provide services to help you if you are a child in need.

Section 20: section 20 is from the Children Act 1989 and says that the local authority has to make sure all children and young people have somewhere to live and be looked after. If your parents can’t care for you they may agree to a section 20 order which lets you live somewhere else but they still have parental responsibility for you.

Section 47: the Children Act 1989 says in section 47 that if a local authority think that you are at risk of or suffering, harm they have to investigate what is happening to make sure that you are kept safe.

Short Break: a short break is when you have a disability and you go to a local authority placement for a short period of time to have a break from your family

Special Guardianship: a special guardianship order is an order appointing one or more individuals to be a child’s ‘special guardian’. It is a private law order made under the Children Act 1989 and is intended for those children who cannot live with their birth parents and who would benefit from a legally secure placement.

Welfare: when people talk about your welfare they mean all of the things that keep you healthy, happy, safe and able to develop as you should. These are things like being able to go to school, having a doctor and dentist to see, having a safe place to live and having healthy food and clean clothes

Wishes and Feelings: these are the things that you think and feel and what you would like to happen in your life. Adults and people making decisions for you should ask you about your wishes and feelings before deciding on things in your life.