If you are looked after by us, we make sure you have somewhere safe to live where you are protected and cared for. What's best for you always comes first.
Day to day life
We try to make sure you will have as normal a life as possible in care – seeing family and keeping in touch with them, staying over at friends. If you're in care your foster carer(s) or staff in your residential home usually makes day-to-day decisions. But we are responsible for your welfare, sometimes jointly with your parent(s).
You should have the same opportunities as others your age; these are agreed and listed in your placement agreement, which is written when you start a care placement. And you can discuss these opportunities at your review meetings that you will have with your social worker.
Your care plan
When we look after you, we make a care plan which explains what we will do to help you with things like: health, education, religion, culture, contact with your family and friends, hobbies and interests and any other needs you may have. Often it will also say how your parents or guardians will help look after you.
A placement agreement is also written and this explains what happens on a day-to-day basis and includes things like your living arrangements, getting to school, your health, who you can and can't see, your pocket money, what time you have to be home and your travel arrangements.
We will involve you in writing your care plan and placement agreement, if you're old enough to understand them, as well as your parent(s) or guardian(s), your social worker and any other people helping to look after you.
The plan needs to be written within 10 days of you coming into our care and if you are old enough and agree with the plan you will need to sign it.
If you need help to take part in writing the plan, let your social worker know so that help can be found for you. You can also bring a friend or someone else who can speak up for you if you want.
Where you might live - foster care, children's homes and respite care
If you are placed with a family who support and look after you, this is known as a foster placement. There may be other children living there too.
Your foster family looks after children who can't stay with their own family, and can only become foster carers after we've checked them out very closely to make sure they're the right people to look after young people. They also have to take training and are visited regularly by us. We value our foster carers but if you think you aren't being well cared for, let your social worker know. Our social workers always ask your views before you go to live with a foster carer and keep listening and talking with you once you're settled.
When arranging a foster carer for anyone we try to keep brothers and sisters together, help you keep in touch with your family and keep you as close to home as possible. We will also try to find a foster family with the same race, culture, religion and language as you and you will get to visit them before you move in. We also make sure you get a good education and health care.
Living in a children's home
Children's homes are where you would live with other young people in care. You will have a key worker, who will work closely with you and staff and who will be around at all times in case there are any problems.
Respite care is something you might have if a carer or parent/guardian needs a break. You could go to stay somewhere for one day a week, a weekend or a longer period of time depending on the circumstances.
Staying in your home town
Sometimes you won't be able to stay in your area because it isn't safe to do so, or we may not have enough foster carers or residential homes in your area. A lot of people in care can keep going to the same school though their journeys may be longer and keeping in touch with friends can be tricky.
The sponsor scheme is a voluntary scheme where you are matched with an adult working in a professional job who will encourage you with key decisions you make for your future. Sponsors can guide you in many areas to help you at school, college or pass on their knowledge of how to find work opportunities.
Here's what Daniel says about the scheme:
"We've enjoyed a great many Starbucks meetings and worked together on issues from school to college, including part-time employment and now looking ahead to university. Having someone like my sponsor has enabled me to think more openly and not stress out about such things as jobs, university and school etc. We both recommend the scheme as one which brings benefits both for the looked after young person and the sponsor."
If you would like to know more about the scheme or would like a sponsor, talk to your social worker or support worker.