Preferred terminology for care-experienced young people

This list has been put together by young people who have attended participation groups for care-experienced children and young people facilitated by Surrey Youth Voice. The young people who created this list were aged between 13 and 25 years old and have care experience.

Whilst this list was created by care-experienced children and young people and those who have left care, it is important to note that these are only examples of alternative words and phrases that can be used. Young people feel that it is the decision of each individual child or young person to decide which words, phrases or terminology should be used.

We have listed these words alphabetically and have included a definition to help explain what the word means if you feel it will help the young person you are working with or helping. Some of these terms required additional notes and comments, in these sections are direct quotes from the young people who created this list.

The direct quotes from young people are based on their own individual thoughts, and are not reflective of all care-experienced children and young people.

A to Z



Meaning: to leave hurriedly and secretly.


  • Absent from the home address
  • Escape
  • Escaped
  • Fled
  • Go missing
  • Gone
  • Leaving their present residence
  • Left
  • Left the care home
  • Left their home without telling anyone
  • Make a break
  • Run away
  • Space
  • Time away
  • Time away from home
  • Time out

Notes and comments:

"Be specific about what actually happened"


Meaning: a person who puts forward a case on someone else's behalf.


  • Case worker
  • Helper
  • Representative
  • Someone to be my voice
  • Someone to share my thoughts
  • Someone to stand up for me
  • Supporter

Notes and Comments:

This term should be explained to the young person if they are unsure of what an advocate can be used for
"I don't mind Advocate as it's not too obvious you're a care leaver"

Asylum Seeker

Meaning: a person who has left their home country as a political refugee and is seeking asylum in another country.


  • Person seeking shelter
  • Refugee
  • Young people
  • Young person

Notes and Comments:

"This is socially dividing these young people; they should be named the same as us"

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