If you have just been taken into care, this section gives you guidance and support

There’s a lot of support out there for you from our dedicated guides for you to download, care leaver groups and you can also get involved in the Children in Care Council, Care2Listen.

Children and Young person's guides to foster care

If you are being cared for by a foster family, we have created some guides to help you answer some of the questions you may have. You can download a copy of the Children’s Guide to Foster Care and the Young Person’s Guide to Foster Care here.

You may have a lot of questions about being in care. We hope that we can answer some of your questions you may have about being part of a foster family below.

  • To keep you safe
  • Treat you with respect
  • Help you enjoy school
  • Make sure we listen to you
  • Always tell you the truth
  • Help you to have fun
  • Give you a home you like
  • Help you to be healthy
  • Where we can, help you have contact with people that are important to you
  • Try not to change your social worker

Social Worker
Their role is to visit you regularly and make sure that you are safe and well cared for. Your social worker must make sure that the right decisions are made so that you can reach your potential.

Independent Reviewing Officer
It’s probably easier to remember them as IRO’s, they lead your review meetings; consider whether your care plan is right for you; monitor the progress of the care plan and challenge the council. Your IRO will try and meet with you before your meeting to get your views.

Carer
It’s their role to look after you every day, to make sure you are warm, fed, go to school, are healthy and you feel safe.

Advocate
Not everyone has one of these but they are like a separate person who stands up for what you want.

Foster carers
These are people who are selected, checked and trained to look after you in their own homes. Other young people in care may also live with them.

Residential home
This is a home which has staff to run it. You will most likely live there with other young people in care. You will have a keyworker to look after you

Family and friends carers
That’s a bit like foster carers but they are members of your own family like an aunt or uncle or maybe a close family friend. They are also known as connected persons or kinship carers.

At first, it may feel a little bit strange to you to live with a different family. Your foster carers and keyworkers know this and will do everything possible to help you to settle in.

This is different for everyone, and will depend on your own situation. If you talk to your social worker or other adult working with you, they will be able to give you more information.

Families have different ways they do things. These may be called the house rules. These may be different from those you have had before and your foster carer will explain these to you.

It may seem like there are lots of plans in place for you, they are just there to make sure you are cared for properly.

Care plan
This is your main plan and cover why you are being looked after away from your parents. It will have in it what needs to happen for you now and in the future. It needs to include your views and opinions about your life. Alongside your care plan there are other smaller but still important plans.

Placement plan
This says what and where you will be living, who will be taking you to meetings and things like that, what your day to day routine is and what you like and don’t like.

Education plan
This is about how everyone will help you with your learning and also socially too!

Health plan
This is about how everyone will keep you healthy. They will happen within the first few weeks of you coming into care, and then every year after that.

And finally a pathway plan
This is your plan as you approach your 16th birthday and will include details about your future care and support needs. There are lots of options to consider when you are 18 years old so this plan will help work through those.

Your care plan will be looked at in a meeting, which is called a Child Looked After Review, by someone called an independent reviewing officer (IRO).

People who are important in supporting you will be invited like your social worker, foster carer and of course, you.

Your IRO will make sure you have your say about what you want to happen and will talk to you about how you can give your views. This review takes place around four weeks from the time you first started living with your foster family.

The second review will be after three months, then they will be every six months.

There has to be meetings for your plans as this is the best way to make sure everyone is doing what they should be doing and that you have a voice too. It’s a good idea to go as it’s all about you and you can even chair the meeting if you wish.

Foster carers have to make sure that you feel safe so they will have some rules in their home about what you can and cannot do. This is called a Safe Care Policy which your foster carer will share with you.

Sometimes you may forget the rules and your foster carer will talk to you about this. Your foster carer will never smack or hit you, call you names, or stop you from seeing your family.

Expect to be treated with respect!

Most children who are fostered will still see their family and this will need to be arranged by your social worker.

They will let you know when and where this is going to happen, and how often. Usually, the only time this doesn’t happen is if your social worker or court think it wouldn’t be safe for you.

Sometimes you may not wish to see your family or there may be other reasons why you might not want to. Your social worker will talk to you about this, if it happens.

We know that your friends are important to you and you should also be able to keep in touch with them too. If you have any questions or worries, you can talk to your foster carer, your social worker, your IRO or an independent adult we can put you in touch with.

We would like you to be able to keep in touch with your family and friends, but it’s important that this is done in a safe way. Your foster carer and social worker will talk to you about this.

Remember that we always want you to feel safe and not to have any worries while being cared for by a foster family. If you don’t feel safe, you should talk to someone about this to help you sort it out. There is more information on this webpage about who to contact.

Your social worker and foster carer will make sure that arrangements are made for you to get to school or college every day.

You should be able to continue to go to your school, but there may be reasons why this isn’t possible. When this happens they will find another school to suit you.

If you are having any problems at school or college, you should let your foster carer and social worker know so that they can help to sort them out.

Your foster carer can help with homework and make sure that you have everything you need for your learning.

If you get letters from school or college, it is important you give them to your foster carer so that they know about educational trips or activities you might like to do.

You’ll also get additional help from the Virtual School.

What is a Virtual School?

The Virtual School is exactly that – virtual! It isn’t a place or a building, it’s a group of professionals (including a headteacher, teachers and specialists in education welfare) who work with you to support you to get the best outcomes from your school and college years.

The Virtual School is an additional resource, so we can help and support you.

We work closely with the school you attend, a designated teacher in your school, your social worker and carer to support you through school or college and to make sure you are getting any help you need. We also help make sure you have access to other activities that interest you or may help with any career plans.

Designated teachers are specifically trained and support other school staff members to ensure your particular needs are met and to help you achieve the best results you can.

Bullying is upsetting, whether someone is calling you names or they are physically hurting you – it is not acceptable.

Foster carers know that sometimes bullying can happen when children live together or when they are at school. If you have any worries about bullying, let your foster carer or social worker know and they will be able to help you.

You could also talk to a teacher or an adult at school. Some schools also have anti-bullying schemes and other pupils who you can talk to, usually called peer mentors.

We are all different and all enjoy doing different things. It is important that your foster carers know what you like doing.

You might enjoy sport, playing games, music, going to church or temple, or to particular clubs. Whatever you usually do, or new things you would like to try, talk it through with your foster carer or social worker.

If you don’t tell them, they won’t know what you like to do.

Also, we give your foster family money so that you can visit lots of places and do different activities.

Your foster carer will help you make sure that you know how to stay healthy and feel good!

They will register you with a doctor and a dentist and will also arrange any other appointments that you might need. They will go with you to the appointments, if you want them to.

Your foster carer will do things with you, like offering help with homework or taking you to activities you enjoy.

If you are older, they can show you how to cook healthy meals and how to wash your clothes. These things make most of us feel better about ourselves and more in control of our situations.

If you’re in foster care, you can join one of our Children in Care Council (CiCC) groups:

  • Care2Listen
  • Care2HaveFun

These are both fun groups of young people who are in care. You can find out more about them and what they get up to further down this webpage.

When you are living with your foster carers you are entitled to pocket money every week. The amount you get will depend on how old you are.

Your foster carers will help you make sense of your life and keep your memories safe. This could be in a book which records what has happened to you in your life or a memory box where you can keep special things that are important to you.

This might be a fun activity you can do together to help remember things you have done while living with your carers.

The memory book could include memorabilia, tickets from places you have visited, photographs, school reports and other things that are important to you.

All of these things can also be included in a special book we call your ‘life story book’, which we help put together for you so that you have memories and also key information about the whole of your life. It’s important, especially for children and young people who can’t return home, to have these memories and information about the whole of their lives. You may have a ‘life story book’ or you may just have a memory box of all the things you did while you were in care. It will depend on how long you’re in care.

Everyone who comes into care is different and everyone’s story is different. That’s why it’s important to know – and own – your own story and to have something that’s special to you.

You have rights like everyone else. You have a right to be listened to and your thoughts and feelings taken seriously. If there is something upsetting you, you should talk to your foster carers to see if they can sort it out.

If you are still unhappy that people are not listening to you or ignoring what you have to say, then you should tell someone you trust and ask them to help you to complain. This could be your social worker.

If you would like to speak to someone outside of the fostering team, there are plenty of people for you to get in touch with, one of them is Reconstruct. Reconstruct is separate to Brighter Futures for Children and is there to support you in raising or dealing with problems and issues. They can also help you express your views at meetings. Contact advocacy@reconstruct.co.uk

If you’re not happy with the way that Brighter Futures for Children are working with you, you can tell Ofsted at enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk

Meet the Children in Care Council Care2Listen

This is our Reading Children in Care Council.

We are a group of young people in care aged 12 to 17 years old that meet once a month to make sure that we have a voice and are listened to about things that matter to us.

The group is run in a fun way, you will get to meet other young people in care, it’s great for your CV, and there are opportunities to get involved in interviews, as well as winning competitions and vouchers. Don’t worry if you don’t live in Reading and are being looked after in some other town because you can join us by using the screen, you just dial into the meeting.

You can contact the Children in Care Council team by emailing CICC@brighterfuturesforchildren.org or you can speak to your social worker or IRO as they will know how to put you in touch.

Come and join one of our groups

Want to meet with other young people in care to make sure that we have a voice and are listened to about things that matter?

Learn more

This is a fun group that meets once a month to take part in activities. We do all sorts like trampolining, football, pizza nights, cinema. Fancy taking part?

Learn More

Our Virtual School is here to help you

The virtual school is here to champion young people in care during their school lives. We want to help you reach your education goals and encourage you to go on to have more fulfilling careers with high income and greater self-confidence.

The virtual school is here to support you by offering:

  • One-to-one tutoring
  • In class behaviour support
  • Advice and training
  • Advocacy
  • Transition work
  • Placement support

Reading Virtual School logo

Useful contacts for you

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