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Some of the things you should know about being in care

We want to make sure children and young people have as much information as possible when they come into care. Some of the questions below were asked by looked after children the User Voice and Participation team work with. Other questions came from social workers who thought they might be good for children and young people to know.

What does being a looked after child mean?

If you are a looked after child, it means that your local authority or council must make sure you are living somewhere where you are safe, protected and cared for.

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Why am I looked after?

There are lots of reasons why children become looked after and go into care. It could be because your parents aren't able to care for you or are in another country. It might just be because it isn't safe for you to stay at home, so the local authority will help to look after you.

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What are care proceedings?

This is when Children's Services ask the court whether a child or young person should become looked after.

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What is a care order?

Orders are like rules that the court says everyone has to stick to. If your social worker is worried about safety and feels you should become looked after, but your parents don't agree, then the social worker can go to court to try and get something called a care order. The care order allows the social worker to have paternal responsibility for you.

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What is a care plan?

This is a set of written instructions that might include:

  • how you will be cared for
  • where you will live
  • who will look after you
  • and how often you will see your family

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Where will I live?

When you come into Surrey's care you will usually go to live with another family in their home, called a foster family. You might also go into a house with other looked after children, this is called a children's home (or residential home).

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Will I still see my family?

Yes. Keeping in touch with you family is known as contact and this will happen if:

  • you want it to happen
  • your family wants it to happen,
  • and if it is safe for contact to happen

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Can I live in a different area?

This can happen, but unless you are going to live with someone you already know or an approved foster carer, only a senior person in Surrey County Council can make the decision for you to live outside your area.

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Can I go home?

Your social worker will always try to get you back home with your family if it's safe for you. Although it can seem unfair not to be allowed home, your social work is only trying to protect you and you must remember that you deserve a safe and happy childhood.

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