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Being in care

There are lots of questions that it's natural to have about what being in care is all about. Here are the ones we're often asked.

Why am I looked after?

It can be for many different reasons – your parents can't care for you for a number of reasons or they are abroad or it might not be safe to stay at home. So we help to look after you.

What are care proceedings?

Care proceedings happen when a court is asked by our Children's Services whether a child or young person should become 'looked after' by Surrey County Council, instead of by their birth parents.

What is a care order?

These are rules that the court says everyone has to stick to. If your social worker feels you should become looked after, but your parents don't agree, the social worker can go to court to get a care order so we then take over parental responsibility for you.

What is a care plan?

This is a set of written instructions saying how you will be cared for, where you will live, who will look after you and when and how often you should see your family.

Where will I live?

When you come into our care you will usually go to live with another family – a foster family - in their home or into a house with other looked after children, called a children's home (or residential home).

Will I still see my family?

We will do all we can to make sure you see your family. This is known as 'contact' and it will happen if you want it to happen, your family wants it to happen and it is safe.

Can I go home?

Your social worker will always try to get you back home with your family if it's safe for you. It can seem unfair not to be allowed home but you deserve a safe and happy childhood and your social worker will act to protect you.

Who decides if I can stay overnight with friends?

Usually your foster carer or residential staff will decide this with you. Sometimes they may discuss this with your parent and/or your social worker, especially if you have not lived with them for long, do not know the friend you want to stay with, or if the placement or care plan says they have to.

They should know the contact details of the person you would be staying with and make sure that you know how to contact them if you need to. Most of all, they need to know you really want to go on the overnight stay.

Some of the things they consider are:

  • your age and understanding
  • if they know enough about the people you would be staying with
  • what you would be doing and how long you would be staying
  • a court order or anything written in your care plan or placement agreement that stops you from being in a certain area or in contact with a particular person
  • anything that has happened in the past or now that means you cannot stay over at a friend's.

What should your foster carers and residential workers do?

Your foster carer should talk to the parents and see what they are doing while you are visiting. They should know the phone number and address and do a little check by phoning the number, as someone could give their wrong number and address. They should put into their log book: where you are going, when you are coming back, what you are doing, and who they have spoken to about it.

What are the advantages of being in care for me?

We want you to:

  • be safe, well looked after, healthy, loved and valued
  • be helped to learn, to be listened to and consulted with
  • be able to develop yourself and your skills, to have confidence, be respected and have positive relationships
  • have the same opportunities as others
  • have pocket money and a clothing allowance
  • be able to stay the night at friends houses and get involved in leisure activities.

Changes to expect in care

Foster placements may change because you were moved in an emergency or needed somewhere to stay for a short time, while decisions are made about where you will live. Sometimes they happen because relationships don't work out with a young person and their foster carer. Your social worker may also change, because they change jobs or because responsibility for a young person moves to another team. You may also have to change schools because you move away from the area you have been living in.

Files available to download

  • Joe's Letter (82.4 KB)
    Joe's letter to children coming into care

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