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What being looked after means

On this page you can find out what will happen to you when you come into care and what your rights are as a looked-after child.

What being ‘looked after’ means

Being ‘looked after’ means that for some reason you can’t live with your own family and are being looked after by us.
 
It could be for a short time while you and your family get some help to cope with a problem or a long time until you reach adulthood, which means you can't go home at all.
 

Supporting you

We work with you, your family and your carers to do what is best for you.
 
We will listen to what you say and try to do what you want for your future.
 
 

Your rights when you are looked after

You have a right to:
  • a home where you are safe and well cared for
  • a social worker and later, an outreach worker
  • regular contact with your social worker by phone, email and visits
  • a placement agreement and care plan which will tell you what we will do for you
  • a regular review meeting where you can have your say about plans for your future
  • see all relevant the reports we write about you
  • any specific support that you may need to help you reach your goals
  • an independent person to support you if you are unhappy with our plans for your future
  • be consulted about the support you get, including where you live
  • be placed with any of your brothers and sisters who are also looked after, where it is possible to do that
  • have regular contact with your birth family, or other people important to you, if it is in your best interests
  • have help and support with your:
    • language
    • sexuality
    • disability, if you have one
    • education
    • emotions and feelings
    • health
  • be supported and encouraged to learn to live independently and to make friends and make the most of your free time
  • have a pathway plan from when you are 15 years and nine months old which will show the things you are good at and what you need to work on to prepare you for living independently later on
  • make a complaint if you are not happy with the support you get.
 

Care plan

When you start being looked after, you will have a ‘care plan’ which sets out what you need and how we will care for you.
 
Your care plan brings together:
  • your wishes and feelings, including your family's views and expectations
  • a placement plan, which sets out where you will live
  • a personal education plan (PEP) 

to make sure they work together and they work for you.

We update your plan regularly and we always include your views and wishes in it.
 
When you are 15 years and nine months old, if you are still looked after, we will work with you on a ‘pathway plan’ to help you to prepare for adulthood as a care leaver.
Find out more about your plans and meetings by reading the Young persons guide to the care planning, placement and case review (England) regulations 2010.  
 

Meetings – what are they for?

Placement meetings

In the first three days that you come into care you will have a placement meeting, at the place where you are living. At this meeting:
  • you
  • your foster carer
  • your social worker or key worker and
  • sometimes your parents or relatives.
  • decide how you will be looked after.

Looked-after children reviews

All the adults and professional people involved in your care get together regularly to look at your care plan while you are looked after. These are called looked-after children reviews.
 
We will always ask you and help you to go to these meetings so that you can speak about your feelings and wishes.
 

When and where we will meet

Your first review meeting should take place within 28 days of you moving to your placement. The second meeting should take place no more than three months after the first. After that, you should have review meetings every six months.
 
Your review meetings will usually take place in the afternoon so that you don’t miss school or college. They usually take place at your placement.
 

Preparing for your looked-after review meeting

A review meeting is about you and it is very important that you go to it. Your social worker will make sure you are invited and will ask you who you would like to go to the meeting, such as your carer, teacher, learning support worker or your foster carers’ social worker. Your parents or a person that is important to you can also go to the meeting.

Your social worker will meet you before the review meeting and talk to you about what you want to say at the meeting.
 
We will send you a consultation form before the meeting asking you what you think about your social worker, carers and your care plan. If you can, you should fill in this form before your meeting because it will help you to remember everything you want to say.

We will also send consultation forms to your parents and carers and ask them to complete them before the review.
 

At your looked-after review meeting

An independent reviewing officer, who is not part of Newham Council, will oversee your review meeting. It is his or her job to make sure that:
  • you have your say and your views are considered
  • the right decisions are made about your future and
  • social workers do what has been agreed and don’t forget to follow things up.
The review meeting will look at:
  • how you are doing in your placement
  • what you are entitled to
  • what is expected of you
  • your health and education
  • the contact you have with family and friends
  • your care plan
  • anything else you would like to talk about.
The independent reviewing officer will talk to you privately at the review meeting so that you can tell him or her about any worries you may have. They will make every effort to meet your parents or an adult in your life that is important to you.
 
During the meeting you will have the chance to say what you think about the reports people are writing and the plans being made for you.
 

Someone to speak up for you

If you would like someone to speak up for you at meetings because you think you will not be good at speaking up for yourself, you can ask for an advocate to speak for you. 
 
 

Your personal information

We have to keep records about all children and young people who have been taken into care.
 
These records are confidential and can only be seen by people who really need to see them. This means that we do not show them to anyone else. You have the right to see the information we have about you when you reach the age of 18.
You can get an advocate to help you with this. 
 
 

If you are unhappy or worried about something

If you are unhappy about something you can always talk to someone about it. This could be:
  • your foster carer
  • your social worker
  • another adult you trust such as your teacher
  • our Children’s Rights Service
You can email our Children’s Rights Service, phone them on 0800 0152 443 or text them on 07854 085996.
 

Advocates

If you want:
  • someone to speak up for you at meetings because you think you will not be good at speaking up for yourself
  • to make a complaint
  • to ask to see your personal information
  • advice about your rights
you can get an advocate to speak for you or help you do these things.
 
You can ask for an advocate by phoning the Children’s Rights Service on 0800 0152 443 or emailing them.
 

Making a complaint

If you want to make a complaint about how we or your carers are treating you, ask your foster carer or social worker to help you. 
 

Have your say on services for looked-after children

You can help improve the way we look after children and young people by joining our Children in Care Council.
 
You will be able to give your views to the people who organise services for looked-after children and young people. You could also:
  • get training
  • plan events
  • speak at conferences
  • go on trips out
  • learn new skills
  • meet peers, other young people in care
  • help to shape future children's services.
The Children in Care Council meets on the last Thursday of every month, from 5.30 – 7pm, at Newham Dockside, 1000 Dockside Road opposite the Royal Albert DLR station.
 
You will get vouchers as a thank you for taking part.
 
If you would like to join the Children in Care Council, you should phone the Children’s Rights Service on 0800 0152 443 or email them.

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