Children in care and care leavers
When you come into care, we'll make sure your life's as normal as possible. You'll still be able to do the things you used to do at home, like going to school, seeing your friends and family and having fun.
You'll have the same opportunities to do well in life and achieve your potential as all the other kids your age.
We know that moving away from home can be confusing, and perhaps upsetting, but try not to worry. We'll help you settle in and make sure you're safe and happy.
Why you come into care
There's lots of reasons why you might come into care. Your parents might be ill, or abroad for a while, and not able to look after you. It could be it's not safe for you to stay at home and you need a safe place to live.
The time you spend in care depends on what's happening at home and why you had to come into care. You could be in care for a few days, a week, a month, or for much longer. Some young people can be in care until they're 18.
Cafcass is an organisation that supports children and young people in family court cases.
Living in care
When you first come into care you've probably got loads of questions you want to ask about what it's like being in care and what will happen to you.
To help you we've included lots of useful information on this website about being in care, your health and education, your rights while you're in care, and how to have your say about the care and support you need.
If you're still not sure about anything, talk to your social worker. You can also find out about people who can support you.
We'll look after you in a safe and caring home
What we'll do
- help you to live in a safe place, where you’ll be cared for
- only move you if we have to
- help you to keep things that are important to you
- listen to you when you have any concerns
- find you a loving home as quickly as possible, that can and will last until you're ready to leave care
We recognise that you need love in the care system, including displays of positive affection. We also recognise that instability and loss of continuity in your lives is made worse though no fault of yours but by the pressures in the care system.
Before you move to a new home, you'll have a chance to meet your new carers and see your new home - unless you have to move in an emergency.
Where you'll live
If you live in Barnsley and you come into care, we'll do our best to find you a placement in Barnsley. This means you'll continue to live in the place you're familiar with and go to the school you already go to.
Most Barnsley children are placed with Barnsley foster carers. We only place children outside Barnsley in exceptional circumstances.
Your care plans
When you first come into our care we'll make a care plan and a placement plan for you. We have to do this within 10 days of you coming into care. You'll be involved in writing your care plan and so will your parents and your social worker.
Once you're happy with the plans, we'll ask you to sign them.
Your placement plan
Your placement plan is an agreement between you, your carers, your social worker and usually your parents. It covers things like where you'll go to school, how you'll get there, where and how you'll be able to meet with family and friends, as well as other details about your day-to-day living arrangements.
Your placement plan is part of your overall care plan, which details all the arrangements to be made for looking after you while you are in our care. Both your placement plan and care plan are regularly reviewed as circumstances change, and you'll be involved in planning for and making any changes.
We'll promote, support and respect your identity
What we'll do
- respect your right to privacy
- only share information with people that need to know as and when they need it
- help you as you grow up and provide you with a life story book
- tell you when you’re doing well
- give you extra help if you need it
- show you how proud we are of you
- recognise your rights in relation to disability, sexuality and race
- support your right to both follow your culture and religion if that is your wish
- recognise that you need to be seen as individuals worth of respect
- help you to discover your sense of who you are
- help you to stay in touch with your family, if this is what you want
- support and encourage you to get involved in your community through volunteering work and helping others if you want to
Seeing your family and friends
When you come into care, you don't need to worry about not being able to stay in touch with family and friends. We'll encourage you to keep in regular contact with them if it’s safe for you to do so.
Where, and how often, you see them will depend on your circumstances, especially if we're worried about your safety. We'll review your contact with family regularly as part of your care plan.
You can keep in touch by phone, letter or visits. Providing you're safe, you can even stay overnight if it's OK with your parents, foster carers, and your social workers.
If you don't want to see them, or you're not happy with the arrangements that have been made, tell your social worker or someone in the Children's Rights team. If possible we'll look at whether we can change what's been agreed. We'll never make you see or visit anyone you don't want to.
Your life story book
When you’re in care you’ll probably have lots of questions about your family; why you came into care and what’s happened while you’ve been in care. Your social worker, carer and family support worker will try to collect information and photographs from your birth family to make a life story book for you. We'll help you keep this up-to-date. It'll include stuff about your parents’ childhood, other family members, your family tree, special occasions, and contact sessions.
Your foster carer will also make a book about your time living with them. It might include things about them and about school, day trips, holidays, and parties.
We'll make sure you get a good education
What we'll do
- keep you safe in school, and make sure that you feel safe
- make sure you know where to go in school to get support
- make sure you don't have to change school wherever possible, especially in years 10 and 11
- make sure you're given extra support within school when you need it
- support you to join in with activities in school and after school
- be aware that if you don't have good mental health this could affect your education
- make sure that if you’re a school-age child you have access to a computer or device and the internet where you live
- support you whilst you're in further education and training beyond 16, including going to college and university, and help you plan for the future
- celebrate and promote your achievements
The Virtual School isn't an actual school building with it's own pupils. It's the name for the group of people who are involved in supporting and providing education for Barnsley's children in care.
Find out more about our the Barnsley Virtual School.
We'll support you to be healthy
What we'll do
- make sure that you're registered with a GP and dentist
- make sure that all hospital, GP and dental appointments are kept and that you're supported to attend them
- make sure you don't miss out on things like football, dancing, swimming and going on holiday
- help you to eat healthily, play outside, and enjoy exercise
- help you to feel happy and good about yourself
- recognise that relationships are really important to you
- help you when you're doing well or if you're struggling
- We know that mental health and wellbeing are one of your biggest worries. We know this is one of the most important and urgent things that we have to improve.
Staying healthy in care
When you come into care you'll have a health assessment with a doctor. Your social worker will then write a health plan for you. This will include your medical information, such as any illnesses or disabilities you have, and any medications. It will also include any dental treatments or eye tests you need, as well as record anything that's upsetting you.
We'll review your health plan regularly as part of your overall care plan. We'll discuss any changes with you at your review meeting. For children under five a nurse will visit you to update it every six months. For those over five years old it's every twelve months.
Find out what to expect at a health assessment in the video below.
Barnsley Leisure Card
Children in care and care leavers living in Barnsley can get money off a range of sport and leisure activities.
Discounts are available on activities in Barnsley, Rotherham, Sheffield, Doncaster and Wakefield.
Find out more about the leisure card
Care leavers' personal health record
When you leave care you'll receive a personal health record. This contains information about your health from childhood. It includes if and when you've had immunisations and your current health needs. It also contains health information that you might need as you move to independence.
We'll prepare you for the future
What we'll do
- make sure you have a name personal advisor
- make sure you've got a bank account, birth certificate, passport and National Insurance number soon after your 16th birthday
- help you to fill out forms with other agencies, such as housing
- prepare you with living skills such as cooking, washing, ironing, cleaning and money management
- help you to develop your confidence and social skills
- help you with interviews
- make sure you don't pay Council Tax if you live in Barnsley
- let you know ways to contact your worker and if you leave a message for them that someone will get back to you as soon as possible
- When you're 16 you'll be supported by the leaving care team. This team will inform you about the different types of places where you can live once you reach 18 - such as staying at home, or semi-independence.
We acknowledge the impacts of the care experience does not end at 18 or 21, not even at 25.
We will act as a 'family' firm and give you different opportunities where possible.
You can leave care when you reach 18. Leaving care and becoming independent is a big step, so before you leave we'll make sure that you're well prepared.
When you're ready to leave, we'll pair you up with a trained personal adviser (PA). They'll be involved in assessing your needs and preparing a pathway plan for you. Your plan sets out what you want to do with your life, what your aspirations are for the future, and how you'll achieve them.
Your PA will help review your pathway plan every six months to keep you on track. They'll be on hand to give you advice and support until you're 21. Your PA will talk to you about whether you need to continue receiving their support after you turn 21, and if you do your pathway plan will be reviewed with you to record the support you need. Support from your PA will continue for as long as you need it, until you turn 25.
Find out about leaving care - our local offer for care leavers.
Getting ready for independent living
Berneslai Homes offer regular tenancy-ready courses which offer advice and guidance on:
- what you want and need in a property
- being a tenant
- planning your spending
- viewing a property
- setting up your home
- moving day
- maintaining your property
- where to get help
Speak to your PA if you'd like to attend one of these courses.
Your PA is based at Future Directions - our leaving care team. You can contact them by calling (01226) 775550. There's a duty worker available from 8.45am to 5pm if your allocated worker isn't available to speak to.
We'll involve you in making it happen
You have the right to say how you feel about your life. You'll always be listened to when we make decisions about your life. Find out how we'll involve you in making it happen.
Understanding the words we use
We've included below a list of words and terms that social workers and other professionals use. For each, we've explained what they mean.
List of words and terms
|Accommodated||This means you're looked after and have been given somewhere to live by the council because you or your parents asked for us to help.|
|Adoption order||The legal document issued by a court if you get adopted.|
|Assessment||Your social worker will find out about you and your life to work out what you need while you're in care. This assessment will help them to write your care plan, which says how we'll meet your needs.|
|CAFCASS||Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. This is an organisation that can help you if you have a serious complaint to make.|
|CAMHS||Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services. If you have mental health problems you may go regularly to see someone from CAMHS. They'll try to help you get better.|
|Care order||This is a legal document which a court issues if you become looked after. It says the local authority has parental responsibility for you.|
|Care plan||All looked after children have a care plan. This is the document your social worker writes which has all the information about you, your placement and the plans for your future. It should be updated regularly as you and your needs change.|
|Case review||This is the meeting led by your Independent Reviewing Officer. It looks at your care plan to make sure it's being followed by everyone involved with your welfare. It also checks whether any changes need to be made to it.|
|Child protection plan||This is a plan about what to do when a the child is at risk of serious harm (for example, being abused by someone in their home). It looks at what the danger is and says what needs to be done to keep the child safe.|
|Children’s home||This is a safe place where young people (mostly teenagers) live together.|
|Corporate parent||When you go into care, we become your ‘corporate parent’. This means that we have a responsibility to help you as you grow so that you're healthy and happy, just like a parent should.|
Delegated authority is the process that enables foster carers to make common sense, everyday decisions about the children and young people they care for, such as allowing them to go to friends' houses for sleepovers, signing consent forms for school trips and even arranging haircuts. Holders of parental responsibility can delegate authority to foster carers to undertake such tasks and decisions.
Foster carers never have parental responsibility for a fostered child, so they can only take decisions about the fostered child where that authority has been delegated to them by the local authority and/or the parents. Clarifying who is best placed to take everyday decisions depends on many factors: the young person’s age, views, legal status and care plan, the parents’ views and the experience and views of the foster carers. Collaboration and consultation are essential for successful working partnerships.
|Discharging the order||This is a legal term which is used if a court says your care order can end and you can go home.|
|Emergency protection order||This is a legal document from a court which gives the local authority parental responsibility for you in an emergency. It can only last for 15 days while people work out what’s best for you.|
|Health assessment||When you become looked after, you'll be seen by a doctor who will check your health and write a report.|
|After your first health assessment when you become looked after, a health plan will be written for you and will be included in your care plan, to help keep you well.|
|This is the organisation (local council) which manages the services for the area where you live. It's like a mini-government, with elected politicians and paid staff including social workers, people who empty the bins and sweep the roads and so on. It chooses the people in your area who are foster carers and gives them training and help to look after you properly.|
|Out of authority placement||This is when you're placed in a foster home, a children's home, or a residential school that's not in your area. Some local authorities don’t have enough placements for all the looked after children in that area. When they run out of places, they place children with foster carers or in children’s homes in other areas. The government is trying to help councils to create more placements so that children don’t need to leave the area they're used to (unless it is safer for them to go to live in a different area, for example to get away from an abusive parent).|
|Pathway plan||This is a plan saying what will happen when you leave care.|
|Permanence plan||This is a long-term plan to help find somewhere that you feel like you belong, and are happy and safe.|
|Personal education plan (PEP)||This is a plan for making sure you get the most out of school while you're in care. It’s part of your care plan.|
|This is the place where you live while you’re looked after.|
|This is part of your care plan – it says why we think the particular placement you’re in is right for you.|
|This is a legal document from a court which says who you should live with. That person will have parental responsibility for you. It will usually last until you're 16.|
|There'll be regular meetings, which you’ll be part of, to look at your care plan. This is to make sure it’s meeting your needs. These meetings are called ‘reviews’.|
|If you're disabled and go into a local authority placement for a short time to have a break from your family, it's a ‘short break’.|
Special guardianship order
|This is a court order which hands over responsibility for you from the local authority to a guardian. It's expected to last until you're 18. Your parents still have legal responsibility for you but your guardian will make most of the important decisions.|
|Subject to a care order but living at home||This means you're on a care order and the local authority shares parental responsibility for you, but has decided you can live with your parents, with a lot of support from social workers.|
|Supervision order||This is a court order which says you can live at home but with regular visits and checks from social care.|