Your guide to being in care for 6 to 11 year olds

Your guide to being care for 6 to 11 year olds

This is a guide about being a Child in Care in Wokingham. People sometimes call this being looked after. We want to help you grow up healthy, safe and do well in school.

While you’re in care you will meet people who are there to help you.

Your social worker

You will have a social worker who will make a plan with until you’re grown up. This is to make sure you have a safe and settled future.


  • Your social worker is there to listen to what you have to say
  • They will help you be a part of making decisions about where you live
  • They will explain why, when and how things will happen
  • They will visit you to make sure you’re doing ok and the plan we put in place is helping you
  • They will spend some time with you when they visit. Usually they will see you on your own for some of the visit

  

Independent reviewing officer (IRO)


This person is in charge of meetings about you.


  • They will check that plans made with you happen
  • They will listen to what you have to say
  • You can write things down for the meeting or talk to them before

Independent visitor


If you don’t see your family very often, then you can have someone called an independent visitor to come and see you.


  • They will be there for you to talk to about things
  • They might take you out to places
  • They can give you help and advice
  • They can go to meetings with you

Advocate – someone to help you


This is someone who will help with problems or things you’re not happy about that you can’t sort out with your carer or social worker.


  • They can also help you make sure your feelings and wishes are heard at meetings
  • They will listen to you
  • They will help you talk to people and make sure you feel safe when you do

Review meetings


There will be regular meetings to make sure you are safe happy and well cared for. These are called review meetings. 


Before the review meeting you can use the review booklet (PDF document) to help you write down or draw pictures about how you're feeling about things. You can write down or draw pictures of:


  • What you think
  • What you want
  • Any questions you have
  • Anything that is worrying you or that you're unhappy about

What will happen at the meeting?


An independent reviewing officer will talk to you and other people to make sure everyone is working together for you.


  • If the meeting is about you remember your views are really important

  • Remind the adults that you have the right to be listened and say how you feel
  • You can ask for an advocate to help you. This is someone to help you say what you want to say and make sure you’re listened

Plans


Your social worker and you will write a care plan. This is to make sure you are being cared for properly; you know what’s going on and what will happen.


The plan will be about:


  • Whether you can go home or whether you need to live somewhere else
  • When you will see your family
  • How you’re doing at school
  • Your health and happiness
  • The things you want to do

Your social worker will talk to you about the plan and you will get a copy of it.


Your carer will talk to your family about the plan so everyone agrees with it and knows what’s going on.

When you're in care you might live with different people. 


you might live:


  • With an aunt and uncle, grandparents, or a family friend
  • With foster carers. This is where you live with another family in their home. Foster families can be all shapes and sizes.
  • In a children’s home. This is usually for older children.

Your social worker will try their best to arrange for you to visit your foster home before you move in so you can meet your carers and their family.

The things you need


The people who are looking after you will make sure:


  • You get the help you need if you have special needs or disabilities
  • You get pocket money and the clothes you need
  • You get soap, shampoo and the things you need to keep you clean and healthy

Living together


When people live together, they need to agree how to do this. Sometimes this is called setting 'boundaries' or 'rules'. It's a way of understanding what you can and can't do in the home.


So that you can all live together happily, talk to your carers about the boundaries and rules you are used to. You can ask your social worker to help you.

Keeping in touch with family and friends is important and this is sometimes called contact.


Everybody’s family is different. You can keep in touch lots of different ways:


  • Text
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Letter
  • Meeting up

Your social worker will help you work out the best way to keep in touch with people.


  • You need to tell your social worker or carer how you feel about seeing people, so they can make sure the right plans get made
  • Tell them if you don’t want to see some people too
  • Ask them about your family if you don’t know where they are

Seeing your family with your carer or a contact supervisor


You might need to see your family with your carer or another person called a contact supervisor.


A contact supervisor is an adult who will take you to see your family to make sure everything goes well when you seem them.


Sometimes young people don’t want to see their family. If you don’t, ask your social worker to explain the reasons why. There might be a different way you can keep in touch with people who are important to you.

Your life story work


This is where you and your social worker or carer spend some time together making a record of your life and family. You could make a:


  • Photo album
  • Scrap book
  • DVD
  • Story

You need to keep your life story work very safe so you will always be able to remind yourself of people, places and important times in your life.

Your social worker and carer must make sure that they talk to you about your feelings and views about things that are important to you. 


Decisions that people make about you must be the best for you. they have to make sure that your feelings and views are included when decisions are being made.


Telling people what you want


Your carers, your social worker and your independent reviewing officer will all want to know what you think and feel.


You can tell them by writing it down, drawing it, making a tape or video recording or asking someone you trust to talk for you.

Telling people what you think


People who are helping you and caring for you like to know what is going really well for you so they can do things even better. This is called a compliment.


Telling people who care for you that you are not happy about something is important too. When things are going wrong they want to try and sort it out. This is called a complaint.


You can get someone to help you when you make a complaint. This person is called an advocate.


Speak to your carer, family social worker or Debbie Laflin, the children's rights officer if you would like to make a compliment or a complaint.

When you are in care it's important to keep other things in your life as settled as possible. To help with this you will probably carry on going to your usual school.

Teachers


All schools have someone called a designated teacher. This is a teacher who understands you and your needs. You can talk to your designated teacher if you have any problems in school.


We also have a virtual head teacher. This is someone who makes sure that all children in care have a chance to do well in school. They speak to school and teachers and sometimes come to school meetings. They can help you sort out any problems in school.


Help with school work


Your carers will give you support, help and space to do your homework.

Your social worker and teacher make a plan which will say what help you need in school. This is to male sure you do the best you can. You will also be asked to say what you think about the plan.


Bullying


Someone may be bullying you by teasing you, or hitting, kicking or hurting you. Standing up to someone who is bullying you or someone else is difficult. You need to talk to someone about it, even if you feel scared.


  • Speak to your parents, carer, teacher or social worker or friend. It is ok to tell others
  • Sometimes you might be unkind to other people and it is ok to stop and think what you are doing
  • Are you treating other people badly and making them upset? Ask for help with this
  • Speak to an adult who can try and help you even if you feel scared
Being healthy means your body is in good working order. Keeping fit can be fun.


  • You will need good food, lots of exercise, sleep and relaxation.
  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables. The 5 a day website can tell you more about this.

 

Your social worker and carer will make sure


  • they find out the important things about your health when you go into care.
  • you have a doctor, a dentist and visit the optician to check your eyesight.
  • you're offered a health check every year.
  • your health care needs are part of your care plan and part of your review meetings.


Your doctor and nurse


There is a nurse who is just for children and young people living away from home. Ask your social worker or foster carer about the nurse and they will help you with questions about your health.


You can talk to your doctor or a nurse about anything that worries you about your health. Anything you discuss with your doctor or nurse will be private as long as they think you are old enough to decide on your own.

The Children's Act is the main law about children in care:


  • It helps people decide what is the best thing to do to keep you safe.
  • It says who should be responsible for you.
  • Usually, your parents will always have a say in what happens to you. 
  • If we decide that you need to go into care to make sure you're safe, this is known as a care order. We will be responsible for you as well as your parents.


Tell us if you're not being looked after properly


Nobody should do things that make you feel uncomfortable or scared. Tell you social worker or carer if someone:


  • Smacks or hits you
  • Stops you from having food or drink
  • Stops you from seeing your family or other people who are important to you
  • Makes you wear different clothes from those around you
  • Stops you from having medical or dental treatment that you need
  • Locks you in a room, or in the house
  • Keeps you awake so that you don’t get your normal sleep. Remember your carers will need to wake you up for school even if you stay up late
  • Stops your pocket money as punishment – but they can use some of it to pay for something that you have damaged or stolen

Many young people stay in care for a short time and return to their family. If it is decided you will stay in care until you are grown up, the courts may make an adoption order, special guardianship order or residence order for you.


  • Adoption is when you legally get a new parent or parents. You will be part of this new family forever. You can be adopted up to the age of 18
  • Special guardianship is when your carers or family members who are not your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, look for you until you are grown up. They will make all the decisions about you, but they will not be your new parents
You'll be given a guide to being in care which will tell you more about being in care. It also includes information sheets you can use to keep track of everything and make notes to help you.