What being in care means
Being in care may also be called being ‘looked after.’ Children in care are being looked after by the Local Authority because it has been decided they cannot remain at home. This may be because it is not safe to stay at home, or because your parents cannot look after you. Your Social Worker should explain to you the reasons why you are in care. If you are not sure or you do not understand, then you can ask them.
If you are a child in care you have a right to support from the Local Authority and Children’s Services have a duty to make sure you are safe.
The legal stuff - Care Order
There are two ways of becoming cared for:
- An agreement between your family and Children’s Services
- If an agreement can’t be reached, Children’s Services may have to go to court and ask for a Care Order
A judge can make a Care Order which means Children’s Services have legal responsibility for your care along with your parents. Most children and young people on a Care Order are cared for away from their parents, but Children’s Services will try to make sure you have contact with your family. Children’s Services become a ‘Corporate Parent.’
If you disagree with an order of the court you may be able to appeal. Talk to your Social Worker or the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) (more information later) about this.
You can find a guide for young people about care proceedings on the Cafcass website.
Cafcass stands for Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service, but they use Cafcass because it is much shorter and easier to say.
Cafcass work with children and young people in family court cases. They make sure that your voices are heard and decisions are taken in your best interests.