Let us try and help.
When you are coming into care, you will have what seems like a million things going round and round in your head. We will always do our best to plan ahead so you know what's happening, so you can start to make sense of the jumble and hopefully not worry so much. Your social worker will be a big help with this.
Here are some of the main things you will want to know. If we've missed things out that are important, just get in touch and let us know so we can add to what is here already - Contact Us.
Where will I live?
When we're talking with you and your family about you coming into care, the first thing we'll always ask is, "Are there any other family members or good friends that you are strongly connected to that could look after you well and keep you safe while we work out plans for your future?" This will be our first choice for you and is known as Connected Care or Kinship Care. Click on the highlighted words to find out more.
If there aren't any family or friends that you can live with then you will most likely go to live with another family in their home - this is called foster care. Some of you will have heard of this before but won't really know much about what it means. We have a whole section about foster care on our website and if you click on the highlighted words it will take you straight there for you to have a closer look if you want to.
Another type of care that will suit some of you better than foster care is Residential Care. This is usually known as a children's home and means you will live in a house with other children in care and will be looked after by a few people who work there, including Residential Social Workers. You will have worked out by now that you can find out more by clicking on those underlined words!
If you are disabled we will make sure that the place where you are going to live has what it needs to care for you properly - including any equipment to help you.
MOST IMPORTANTLY YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS!
Unless it would mean you were not safe or not thought to be the best thing for you, we will do everything we can to make sure that you live near your home; that you can go to the same school if possible so you can get on with your education without it being affected; you can live with your brothers / sisters if they are coming into care too.
Staying in touch with family and friends
For most of you, being able to stay in touch with and see your family and friends is SO important to you and most of the time we will be encouraging you and making arrangements for this to happen. This is called CONTACT.
The law says we have to make sure you have a balanced amount of contact and if this is something that the people involved with you cannot agree about then the court can make a decision.
The main things to remember about contact are it will happen if:
You want it to happen; Your family want it to happen; It is safe and in your best interest.
Sometimes, to make it safe, it might be supervised by your social worker or support worker.
There are different types of contact, not just face to face but using phone, txt, email, msn, Facebook, Twitter - the list goes on and on!
Your social worker and carers should help you understand what plans are in place for your contact and it should be written down and agreed in your Placement Plan. If it is not working as it should do then you can contact your social worker, IRO or Children's Rights Officer (Contacts) or Contact Us.
REMEMBER! At all times, you should have a say about your contact - Have Your Say (if you want to!)
What about school?
When things are changing in your life, like coming into care, it is really important that we try and keep some things the same so you still have parts of your life that you feel comfortable and secure with. That is why as far as possible we will try and keep your school the same for you.
If you are in year 10, the law says that you cannot move school as it could affect your GCSE's.
It may mean that you will have to travel further to school which makes you have a longer school day and that can make you feel very tired after a while. We will keep checking out with you, your school and your carers how this is affecting you so we can take this into account when making future plans with you for your education.
If you do have to move school then you will get all the support you need to make this as easy for you as possible - check out your Virtual School section - you will see what help and support is available.
Your carer will play a big part in helping you get everything sorted that you need for school and will support you with homework as well as keep in contact with school to make sure that you are getting the help you need to do the best that you can in school.
Can I take my things?
In a word YES! You can bring whatever you need to have with you to make your new surroundings feel more homely for you - having your personal and familiar things will help you settle into your new home - however short or long a time you are going to be there.
What about my hobbies and interests?
Just like trying to keep your school the same, when you come into care, it is important that you are able to carry on with any interests, hobbies, activities, groups etc that you have been a part of and used to doing and that coming into care doesn't get in the way of that.
Your carers and social worker will support you to keep up what you were doing before, as far as is possible.
You will also get a chance to get involved in new things. Check out some of these sections of the website to give you a flavour of whats around!
What about going home?
When your parents can give you a safe and loving home, this is the best place for you and your social worker will work really hard with you and your family to get you back home as soon as they can if possible.
Sometimes though, things have not been good for you at home and lots of things need to change before you can go back. Your parents might need to admit that they got things wrong for you and understand and show what they need to do to put it right. Sometimes they are not able to do this and sadly this means that you cannot go home and we need to find you a place that you can stay for the rest of your childhood.
It is often very hard for you to understand why you cannot go home and you may feel that it is very unfair. Remember though it is not your fault and you deserve to be safe and well cared for.