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Journey into care

Journey into care

What happens when the decision has been made for me to 'come into care'?


When a decision has been made for you not to live with your parents or main carers the term, we use is that you have 'come into care' or you have been 'accommodated'. Both mean the same thing and it usually means that you are not living with your family and live with foster carers, live with other people in your family, people you know who may be connected to you or a residential placement. 

When you are 'in care' everyone wants to make sure you know why, you know what is happening and when it is going to happen and most importantly your voice is heard throughout all the planning and decision making. 

Living away from home can be difficult or confusing, so we need to make sure that you feel able to tell us about what you would like to happen, what you would like to change and what help you think you need. Your views are essential to all the planning that goes on. 

You will meet lots of new people during your journey and this can be very confusing. So be sure to check out our 'Who’s who' page, as this can explain everyone’s role and responsibilities. 

Before you are 'accommodated', you will probably already have a Social Worker. It is important you have the Social Worker’s name and contact details. 

Your Social Worker will have lots of discussions with your family and hopefully you about what is happening. You should have lots of opportunities to ask questions if you need to. 

Sometimes your Social Worker will need to go to Court to ask a Judge to make the decision about you 'coming into care' and sometimes the Social Worker can work with your family to make the decision, so that you are safe. 

There are times when you may not have a Social Worker before anything happens, but this is very unusual.

There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure when the decision is made for you to 'come into care', that it happens in the most positive way it can:

  • There will be discussions between your Social Worker and your family
  • There will be discussions with the Social Worker and the Family Placement Team – who help find placements for young people
  • There may be discussions with solicitors so that planning for you is appropriate


Once the decision has been made and a placement if identified for you, your Social Worker will need to talk to you about what is going to happen, what the placement is like, who lives in the home, what you can take with you, when you will see your family, how you will continue going to school etc. There may be a thousand and one questions you have. It is important that your Social Worker takes time to help you understand what is happening.

Your Social Worker or someone working for Wokingham Children Services will support you to move to your placement. They should travel with you, help you settle in, make sure you have all the information you need. 

Usually, the placement is a foster placement, where a family, possibly with other young people living there, wish to help and support young people. It is important that you know who lives in the home, what the 'rules' are and where you will be living. You may ask the question 'how long you will be there', but sometimes this is hard to know at the time. 

There will be a lot of paperwork to figure out too and sometimes this is done before you move but can happen at the time of the move. 

Your Social Worker will see you at placement and they will set up a Placement Planning meeting, which is the meeting where what happens at placement and school and contact with your family is discussed.

In addition to your Social Worker, once you are 'accommodated', you will be allocated an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). You may already know this person as they may have been your Child Protection Chair if you had been subject to a Child Protection plan.

Your IRO will contact you after you have settled into placement and make sure you have their contact details. They may spend time with you asking about you and your wishes. It may seem there are a lot of questions, but this is your time to share your views, wishes and thoughts about the plans being made for you. Your IRO can see you at placement or at school. 

Your IRO is the person that makes sure the planning for you is appropriate and they chair your 'Child in Care Reviews'. 

Your first Child in Care Review must happen within 20 working days of the decision to 'accommodate' you. This is arranged by a team of workers who make sure the right people are invited. Your second Child in care Review meeting will happen after three months and then they happen every six months. 

You will have a say about who you want at your review and where you would like it to take place etc. Make sure you let your Social Worker, your IRO and your Carers know. Some of the people who know you well will be invited to attend. Some will be asked to send a report with their views instead. 

Your Social Worker should talk to you before the review. This is to find out if you would like to be at the meeting and whom you would like to be invited. You can also say if there is someone you do not want to be there, and we will think about whether this is possible. 

The idea of the Review meeting is to look at all the help you are getting and to decide what else everyone needs to do together to make a good plan for your life. 

All the important people in your life get a chance to contribute to the meeting and say what help they think you should get. This means your Social Worker must talk to you, your parents or family and carers and other professionals like your teacher.

You may be asked to fill in a Consultation Document too. Your IRO or Carer can help you with this. These are very important as they are a record of your voice, wishes and views. 

Your Social Worker should visit you and talk to you before your review meeting. They should explain about the review and ask about your views. 

You can talk to them, write something down, draw a picture, make a video, write a poem or what ever you feel is right for you, so everyone can 'hear' your voice. 

If your Social Worker cannot visit to talk to you before the meeting, then they should ring you or ask someone else you trust to help explain about the review.

  • What you would like to happen
  • How things are going where you live
  • Your family or parents’ views
  • How long you will be in care and where you will be living
  • What help you may need when you leave care
  • Your religion, language and cultural needs
  • Arrangements for you to keep in touch with family and friends
  • Collecting photos of your family for you to keep
  • Your health and feelings
  • Arrangements for school and leisure activities
  • Your career ambitions
  • You may like to bring certificates or schoolwork to show everyone

After the meeting, your IRO will write up the recommendations made during the review. They will also write up what was discussed, and this is called your Review Report. 

The recommendations will be a list of actions, who should do them and by when and the IRO asks that the actions are completed before your next Review. 

You will get a copy of the Review Recommendations and the Review Report. If you do not get a copy let your Carer, your IRO or your Social Worker know so you do.

Your IRO will also make arrangements for your next Review Meeting to be held, such as the time, date and place it is to be held.

If you are not happy with what has been recommended or written, you have the right to make a complaint. You can ask your Social worker, IRO or Carer how to do this. You should have a copy of the Complaints leaflet for young people who are in care but if you do not then ask your Social Worker, Carer or IRO for one. 

You are also able to use the services of the Childrens Right Officer. They are sometimes known as the Advocate. Wokingham Children Services have their own Childrens Rights Officer and more information about her can be found in the “Who’s Who” section. 

Your IRO must also check that the plans that are agreed for you are carried out. If your IRO thinks that the plans are not being progressed, or you are not getting the help and support you need, they must do something about this. 

They can start by talking to your Social Worker and their Team Manager, but they can also seek independent advice from a Solicitor if needed. 

If you have any questions about the process, what happens, when things will happen and about being involved in planning for you, then please speak to your Social Worker or your IRO. Otherwise, you can make contact with someone using the “contact us” page on this web site. 

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