Updated 13/01/15. A Guide To Being in Care For Children and Young People

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1 Updated 13/01/15 A Guide To Being in Care For Children and Young People 1

2 Contents Introduction Page 3 Pathways into Care Page 3-6 Role of your Social Worker Page 6 Adoption Page 7 Special Guardianship Order Page 8 Residence Order Page 8-9 Care Plans Page 9 Statutory Reviews Page 9 Being in Care and Rules Page 13 Contact Page 14 What do I need to get permission for? Page 17 Being placed in Secure Accommodation Page 20 Education Page 23 Health Page 25 Money Matters: Financial support to Looked After Children Page 27 Access to your Social Care files Page 28 How do I make a complaint Page 30 Trafford s Pledge to Children in Care Page 32 Useful Contacts and Resources Page 34 2

3 Introduction Below you will find pages that are designed as a guide for looked after children and young people. The information on these pages covers many topics ranging from your rights in care, to what happens when you leave care and how to make a complaint. Trafford Council Children s Services Procedures Trafford Council children s Service Procedures provide detailed information about many of the issues that are explored in this guide and they can be accessed by clicking on the following You can find information within the council procedures about specific topics by clicking on the link below and typing in the key word which relates to the topic you are looking for. h.html?zoom_sort=0&zoom_query=what+is+parental+responsability+&zoom_per_pa ge=10&zoom_and=0 How and why do children come into care: Pathways into care? Children become looked after when they are made subject to a legal order made by a court (such as a care order or emergency protection order) or when they are accommodated at the request of their parent(s) or any other adults with parental responsibility for the child. Emergency protection order This is a legal order made by the court at the request of social services when there is concern that a child is at risk of significant harm. This could happen quite quickly and the child's parents would be notified in advance. The parents would also have a right to have legal advice. 3

4 Care orders If a child is subject to a care order this means that the local authority (LA) has parental responsibility for the child. The LA shares this parental responsibility with birth parents. An interim care order is sometimes issued when legal proceeding are taking place and this also gives the LA parental responsibility for the child with the agreement of the court. Police protection In emergency situations where there is significant risk to a child the police can remove a child and place them in local authority accommodation. Being Accommodated If the child is accommodated, the LA does not have parental responsibility although they undertake day to day parental responsibilities for the child on behalf of the child's parents and any other adult who has parental responsibility for the child. Any decisions made about the child will be made together with the child's parents. Asylum seeking children are accommodated when there is no appropriate adult available to take responsibility for them. Being Remanded and Becoming Looked After Some children become looked after because they have been charged with a criminal offence and are placed in the care of the local authority by the court until they are dealt with by the criminal courts. What is Parental Responsibility? It is the rights and duties which parents have towards their children. Parental Responsibility means taking responsibility for you while you are a child and making decisions about you. 4

5 Who has Parental Responsibility? All mothers have Parental Responsibility. Your father will have Parental Responsibility if he is or was married to your mother. If your father was not married to your mother he may have obtained Parental Responsibility by making a formal agreement with your mother or by an Order of the court. From 1st December 2003, fathers who registered a child's birth with the mother automatically gained Parental Responsibility. This only applies to children who are registered after 1st December If your father's name was put on your birth certificate before 1st December 2003, he will not have parental responsibility unless he has either been married to your mother or he has obtained it by court order or agreement. If your father's name was not on the birth certificate before 1st December 2003, he can apply with your mother s agreement to re-register your birth. Can anyone else hold Parental Responsibility? Yes. If you move to live with a member of your family other than your parents (e.g. grandparents, aunt or uncle or older brother or sister) or with someone else, those persons may obtain Parental Responsibility for you if the court gives them a Residence Order or Special Guardianship Order If you become adopted then your adopted parents will hold Parental Responsibility. Do social services have Parental Responsibility for me? If you are on a care order, social services hold parental responsibility for you. If you are 'looked after' by a local authority without a care order, either one or both of your parents will be the only ones with Parental Responsibility unless someone else has a Residence Order or a Special Guardianship Order in respect of you. Are there any decisions social services cannot make about me when I am in Care, either on an Order or not? Yes. These are as follows:- Social services cannot change your name without taking certain steps (see section entitled Changing Your Name). 5

6 If you are the subject of a care order social services cannot give you consent to go abroad for more than a month without the consent of the court social services cannot arrange for you to go abroad for more than a month unless everyone who has Parental Responsibility for you agree, or the court makes an order. Social services cannot make you change your religion; You cannot be adopted without the agreement of your parents unless the court orders it How long does parental responsibility last? Your parents have Parental Responsibility until you are 18. The local authority has Parental Responsibility if there is a care order until you are 18 unless the order is discharged. Other people who have Residence Orders have Parental Responsibility as long as the order lasts. Residence Orders run out at the age of either 16 or 18. Ask to see the order if you are unsure. For further details about what the law says about children in care click on this link The Role of Your Social Worker Children's Social Services take the lead in planning the care provided to looked after children. Social workers will work closely with you and professionals from other agencies to ensure that children are provided with safe and effective care so as to promote positive outcomes. Every Trafford looked after child will have a named social worker who will have a responsibility to make sure that plans are in place to ensure that the needs of the child are met. Children who are looked after on a long term basis will be provided with an allocated social worker from the Permanence Team. This team is a multiagency team which includes professionals from a range of disciplines including social workers and health professionals. By working together we aim to improve the life chances of looked after children and care leavers. For more information about the permanence team click on the link below 6

7 What is Adoption? Adoption is more than just living with another family. It means that legally you become a member of that family and that you no longer belong to your birth family. When the court makes an adoption order it usually changes your name to that of your new family. You will be able to discuss any proposed change of your name with your new family. If you become adopted your new parents will hold Parental Responsibility If I am adopted, will I still be under a Care Order? No. When you are adopted, you are no longer in care and your adoptive parents will be responsible for your care and for making decisions about your day to day life I want to be adopted, but can I still see my birth family? Adoption can mean that you do not see any of your birth family again, but it depends on each individual person's case. It is something you would need to think carefully about during the court proceedings and to tell people clearly who you would want to see, and how often. The older you are, the more the court will take notice of what you want. The court will usually ask the same Children's Guardian who made a report in the care proceedings to see you again and make another report. I thought only babies could be adopted. Am I too old? No. The court can make an adoption order at any time before your 18th birthday but in practice nearly all children who are adopted are under the age of 9 years. How long does an adoption order last? Forever. The legal effect is absolute and irrevocable. Unlike other orders relating to children an adoption order is for life. 7

8 Do I have to be adopted? It can be a very big and difficult decision to make if you have to decide whether or not you wish to be adopted. You should talk to as many people as possible about it and you can ask for special counseling to help you make this decision. For more Information about Adoption click on the link below, which will take you to A Guide to Adoption for Children. What Is A Special Guardianship Order? A Special Guardianship Order is similar to an Adoption Order in that it gives the person caring for you the right to make decisions about what happens to you. It is different from an Adoption Order in that it only lasts until you are 18 and you will not lose your legal rights with your birth family, e.g. contact. Your Special Guardian may be given permission to change your name. If I am under a Special Guardianship Order will I be subject to a Care Order? No. If a Special Guardianship Order is made you will not be in care although the local authority who held the Care Order may be supporting your placement. What is a Residence Order? A Residence Order can be made by a court under the Children Act This specifies who the child lives with and gives the carer shared parental responsibility. The order may be full or shared between two parties who do not live together. In this case the court will specify the period of time that the child will spend with each party. The Residence Order will not affect the child s legal relationship with their parents nor will it take away their parental responsibility. The day-to-day decisions will be made by those with the 8

9 Residence Order without having to get anyone else s agreement, unless the court has directed otherwise. However, no one who has a Residence Order may take the child abroad for more than a month or change the child s surname unless everyone with parental responsibility agrees in writing or the court gives permission. What is a Care Plan and is it important? While you are living away from home, it is important that everyone does as much as they can to make sure that you are happy and healthy. Care Plans are made when you are first looked after; it says what we are trying to do for you and why you are being looked after. The Care Plan is a written document which must include information about: Where you are staying and who with Health Education Race, religion and culture Contact with your parents and family You, your social worker and your parents will be involved in making the plan. The plan will cover things like: what you need to be looked after properly, where you will go to school and who you will see or have contact with. It is very important that the plan takes into consideration your views. You may not always get what you want but if you don't, the reasons should always be carefully explained to you. Social services should then follow the plan once the Care Order is made. Your care plan is reviewed at every looked After Children s Statutory Review to make sure it still meets your needs. Statutory Reviews: What is a Review meeting? A Review meeting is your meeting, about you. A first review meeting must take place within 20 days of when you started to be looked after. The 2 nd review should take place within 3 months of the first review and after that reviews must take place at least every 6 months. 9

10 The review meeting is chaired by an independent reviewing Officer. At the meeting social services have to think about how you are getting on, how you are being Looked after and who you are seeing. We also have to think about whether there should be any changes in how you are being looked after, and whether your Care Plan should be changed. The meeting will also look to see if your Care Plan has been carried out and if things are happening within the timescales which were set in the Plan. We need to ask your opinions and take them into account at your review. You may hear people call your review a "LAC review". Who comes to the Review meeting? The review meeting is chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer. Usually you, your social worker and your foster carer or key worker, will be at the meeting. Other people may be invited like your parents, other close relatives or friends who may be important to your care plan and any other important people like your teacher. You will be asked who you think should be invited and we will take this into account. If you are worried about who will be there you should talk to your social worker. You can also talk to your Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO), who is independent from your case and who will make sure people do everything that they should for you. If there are serious problems with your Care Plan and what is happening to you, the Independent Reviewing Officer will speak to your social worker's manager at first, and if necessary will refer your case to Cafcass. Cafcass stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. Cafcass is an organisation which is independent of the courts, social services, education and health authorities and all similar agencies. Your reviewing officer can refer your case to Cafcass if they do not think that your care plan is properly meeting your needs and Cafcass can intervene. For more information about Cafcass click on the link below - 10

11 How will I be involved in the review meeting? Before the meeting, the Reviewing Officer who chairs the meeting will talk to you to ask if you have any views you want to share with other people coming to the meeting. They will support you and give you the opportunity to talk at the meeting. We want you to come to your review meeting so that you will have a chance to tell people about anything you want to happen, or anything that you are not happy about. If you find it difficult to talk in front of so many people, you can write down what you want to say and give it to your social worker before or during the meeting. You can also ask for someone to come and support you and help you say things that are important to you. You could ask a friend or someone you trust to support you at the review or you can ask for the support of Trafford s Children s Rights Service and ask them to support you at the review meeting. The contact details of the Trafford s Children s Rights Service are detailed below Mark Bailey (Advocacy and Engagement Officer) Telephone: Address: Postal Address: Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road, Stretford, M32 0TH You can also ask for the support of NYAS who are the National Youth Advocacy Service. All looked after children have the right to be supported by an advocate at their reviews. NYAS can provide you with an advocate who will either support you or speak up for you. The contact details for NYAS are listed below NYAS telephone Number: You can also ask your social worker or carer to contact NYAS for you Further information on the work of NYAS can be found by clicking the link below Can I see notes of the review meeting? Yes - the notes are called the minutes and you will be given a copy unless there is a good reason why not and this will be explained to you. 11

12 What Happens if I Don't Get On With My Social Worker? This can be a problem because you need to have very good reasons before a change of social worker might be considered. An example of a good reason might be that you are not able to talk to your social worker about things that are important to you. If you feel that you cannot discuss important matters with your social worker, you should talk about this at your Review or ask to speak to your social worker's Manager. What can I do if I am really unhappy in my current placement? If you are really unhappy in the placement where you live you should talk to your social worker. You can ask to see your social worker alone because it is social services job to make sure you are being looked after in the best possible way. If you cannot talk to your social worker, or the social worker has not agreed that you should move and you are still unhappy you should think things over and then perhaps try to talk to your social worker again. If you wish to speak to an independent person about your wishes and feelings then you can contact either Mark Bailey or Stacey Milward (Advocacy and Engagement Officers). Mark and Stacey s contact details are Telephone: Address: Postal Address: Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road, Stretford, M32 0TH Contacting my social worker Your social worker will provide you with a telephone number and contact details or you can visit your social worker at his or her office address which will be provided to you. If you need to contact your social worker and he/she is not available you can speak to a duty social worker. If the duty social worker is also busy when you telephone then we promise that they will return your call as soon as possible and that they will contact you on the same day. If the matter is really urgent you can ask to speak to the social worker s manager. 12

13 Social workers who work with looked after children generally only work Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 4.30 pm. If you need to speak to a social worker urgently outside of these hours you can contact Trafford s Emergency Duty Team on Being in care and rules where you live Whether you live with a foster family or in a children's home, there will be rules for everybody who lives there. Here are some questions from young people in care about behaving well and about rules. Can my carers tell me off? Yes. You can be told off for behaving inappropriately or for breaking the rules. We will help you to behave well by encouraging and rewarding positive behaviour and by discussing your behavior with you. We understand that sometimes we all can behave inappropriately because of how we feel or what has happened to us in the past. But we will try to help you to learn to behave well and to respect the rights of those around us. What else can happen if I behave inappropriately? You will be asked to talk about what has happened; You can be asked to give back things you have taken; Be asked to do extra jobs around the house to show you are sorry; Carers can use time out; You can be told to go to bed early; If you were expecting treats, like a trip out or special food or an activity these can be delayed; You can be grounded for short periods of time. This is when your carers tell you that you are not allowed to leave the home without permission, for example to go out with your friends or to an activity after school. Most importantly good behaviour will be encouraged and praised What will not happen Our carers will not: Smack or hit you in any way; 13

14 Not give you food or drink; Stop you from having your arranged contact (but see Contact); Make you wear special clothes as a punishment, or make you take your clothes off if they think you have taken things; Not give you your medicines as a punishment, or give you extra medicines when you do not need them; Lock you in your room or in the home; Lock you out of your home; Stop you from sleeping or wake you early in the morning; Make you pay a fine (except when you have been to Court and been fined there) If I do not agree with the way I have been treated? You should first talk to your social worker, but you could also talk to an independent person such as a Children's Rights Worker. Trafford Children s Rights Officers is Mark Bailey (Advocacy and Engagement Officers). Marks contact details are Telephone: Address: Postal Address: Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road, Stretford, M32 0TH If you feel that you want to make a complaint about the way you have been treated please see the section on How to make a complaint Contact with Friends or Family What is contact? Contact is the word used to describe seeing or speaking to members of your family or friends. It can include seeing members of your family (known as direct contact) or speaking to them on the telephone, or writing to them by letter or . 14

15 What is a Contact Order? A Contact Order is when the court makes decisions about how often you should see or speak to a particular person. This would usually be members of your family but could in certain circumstances relate to friends. A Contact Order may also say when and where you should see a particular person. A Contact Order can also say that you should not see a particular person. How Much Contact Can I have? If there is no Contact Order in place then your social worker should make sure that there is reasonable contact between you and members of your family and any important friends. Your Care Plan should state who you are going to see and roughly how often. You must be consulted about this. The amount of visits will depend on your particular case. For example, if your family is very far away, you will not be able to see them as often as if they were nearby. What if I want contact with someone not mentioned in my Care Plan? You should discuss this with your foster carers or staff at your children's home. If there is any uncertainty about whether you should have contact they (or you) should contact your social worker. What if my family does not want to see me? Where contact is appropriate your social worker will do all they can to encourage your family maintain contact with you. You should discuss your feelings about this with your social worker or carers. What if I don't want to see my family? If you want contact to stop with your family you should discuss your feelings about this with your social worker. 15

16 Do I have to see a parent who has been violent to a member of my family but not to me? Violence in your family can be very scary even if you are not the one who has been hit. If you feel worried about seeing a parent who has been violent, it is very important that you tell your social worker. Can I be made to see my family? When the court has ordered that you should have contact with particular members of your family the only way to change this order is to go back to court to ask for the court to make a different order. You should discuss any worries about seeing any members of your family with your social worker or your solicitor. What if I am not satisfied with the number of times I can see someone or with the arrangements for seeing a particular person? You should discuss this with your social worker. If you are still not satisfied you may also discuss your feelings about contact with a Children's Rights Officer. Trafford Children s Rights Officer is Mark Bailey (Advocacy and Engagement Officer). Marks contact details are listed below - Telephone: Address: Postal Address: Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road, Stretford, M32 0TH You can also ask for support about contact issues from NYAS who are the National Youth Advocacy Service. All looked after children have the right to be supported by an advocate. NYAS can provide you with an advocate who will either support you or speak up for you. The contact details for NYAS are listed below: NYAS telephone Number or You can also ask your social worker or carer to contact NYAS for you For further information on the work of NYAS can be found by clicking the link below What is supervised contact? Sometimes it is decided that it is better for you to see your family with another adult present. This may be because 16

17 they are worried you may become upset during the visit or that your family may say or do something that will hurt or upset you. This is called 'supervised contact'. Sometimes another adult will come along just to see how the visits are going, to make sure they are taking place in a way that makes them enjoyable for you. Can I see my family without someone supervising? If you feel uncomfortable having another person present, it is important to talk to your social worker about this. When you are on a Care Order and there is disagreement about the need for supervision, you, your social worker or your parents can ask the court to decide what the best arrangements are for your visits. What kind of contact will I have if I am accommodated? The court has no power to make contact orders when you are not on a care order. All contact arrangements must be agreed between social services and your family and your wishes and feelings about the people you wish to see must be considered. What do I need to get permission for? Can I stay overnight with a friend? You should ask permission from your foster carer (or key worker if you live in a children's home) who will usually be able to make the decision. This may depend on any agreements that have been made with your social worker. Your foster carer or key worker should check out the arrangements with the people with whom you wish to stay and ensure that contact telephone numbers are available. In certain circumstances your carer may need to consult your social worker before giving you consent to spend overnights at friends. Can I go away on a school trip or go camping? You can go on school trips and you should speak to either your carer or social worker so that they can arrange for consent for the trip to be given to the school. Do I need permission to go abroad? If you want to go abroad for a visit or on holiday with your carer, your 17

18 social worker will need to give you consent to travel abroad before you can make the trip. Passports All children who are the subject of a care order or who are in long term care will be provided with a passport Can I ask my GP to put me on 'the pill' or get condoms for me without telling my social worker? You can discuss contraception with your doctor but it may not be confidential. A doctor is allowed to arrange contraception for anyone, even if she is under 16, without telling her parents or social worker, if the doctor thinks she is able to make her own decisions about this. You can obtain family planning services through your doctor or family planning clinic and special clinics are sometimes held for young people. Free condoms are often available at Family Planning Clinics and Doctors' Surgeries. You can discuss issues relating to sexual health and contraception with one Trafford s Community Nurse for Children in Care. The names and contact details of Trafford s Community nurses are listed below. Sharon Martin, Community Nurse - Children in Care Telephone Fax Address Based At Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road, Stretford, M32 0TH Elaine Sherard, Staff Nurse for Children in Care Telephone Address Based At Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road, Stretford, M32 0TH At what age is it lawful to have sex? You should know that it is against the law for anyone to have sex i.e. sexual intercourse under the age of

19 Can I marry under a Care Order? You can marry when you are 16, but if you are 16 or 17 years old you must have permission of one or both of your parents. If you are under a Care Order, social services will also have to agree. If your social worker does not agree to you marrying, you could ask the court to make an order allowing you to marry. You need to consult your solicitor about this. Trafford s Children Rights Service can help you to access a solicitor. Trafford Children s Rights Officers are Mark Bailey (Advocacy and Engagement Officers). Marks contact details are listed below Telephone: Address: Postal Address: Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road, Stretford, M32 0TH Can I get a tattoo or a body piercing? If you are under 14, you will need the permission of those with Parental Responsibility (i.e. social services, your mother and/or father) for all types of body piercing and tattoos. If you are over 14, then you will still need permission for tattoos and some types of body piercing. You should always think carefully about it and perhaps discuss it with your foster carer, key worker, social worker or with the Community Nurses for looked after children. If your social worker doesn't agree, raise it at your review or you can discuss it with a Children s Rights Officer. Trafford Children s Rights Officers are Mark Bailey and Stacey Millward (Advocacy and Engagement Officers). Mark and Stacey s contact details are listed below Telephone: Address: Postal Address: Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road, Stretford, M32 0TH Am I allowed to keep my letters and s private? Strictly speaking, you do not have to show your letters or s to anyone else unless the court decides this. If you find letters or s distressing it might be better to talk about them with your carer or a social worker. 19

20 Can I follow my religion? Yes your social worker should help you in making sure you can follow your religious beliefs whilst under a Care Order and arrangements for helping you to follow your religion should be included on your Care Plan. This may include: Going to a particular place of worship; Going to special classes for religious instruction; Going to a particular school; Wearing your traditional dress, rather than western clothes; Not having your hair cut; Eating, or not eating, certain foods. Do I have to follow my foster family's religion? You cannot be made to follow a religion which is not your religion or the religion of your family. Being Placed in Secure Accommodation What is secure accommodation? This is accommodation where you are placed in a Children s Homes which is kept locked and you are prevented from leaving. Who can be placed in secure accommodation? Only children or young people aged between 13 and 18 who are in care or accommodated by social services can be placed in secure accommodation. Young people aged 16 or over can only be placed in a secure children s home if they are subject to a care order and in very special circumstances. Can I be forced to go into secure accommodation? Yes, but the social services can only make you stay in secure accommodation for 72 hours (3 days) without the court's permission. If social services think that you need to stay in secure accommodation longer, they will have to ask the Court to make an Order giving them permission to keep you there for a longer period. 20

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