- to provide you with a named independent reviewing officer who will chair your childcare review and make sure your views are heard and understood.
- to establish, train and support a group of children and young people in care, who'll meet regularly with senior managers and Barnsley councillors to talk about what it's like being in care and share ideas for making things better. This group is known locally as the Care 4 Us Council, Barnsley's forum with direct links to the Director of Children's Services and Lead Elected Member. Through the forum, children in care and care leavers can express their views and influence the services and support they receive.
- to involve the Children in Care Council in developing, monitoring and reviewing the pledge by providing advice, assistance and information, and seeing how well we're doing to meet the promises set out in the pledge.
- to listen to your views and opinions and involve you in decisions about your care.
- to talk to you and other children and young people in care to help us decide how to change and improve our services.
- to provide you with a copy of the pledge so that you know what we're doing, and can tell us if we're not meeting these promises. You can do this by talking to your social worker, reviewing officer, or anyone else you know who'll tell us, including the Children's Rights Service.
Your review meetings
Your review meeting is a time for you to talk about how you're getting on and the plans being made with you while you're in care.
You, your mum or dad (if it's appropriate), your social worker and carer will be at the meeting. There might be times that other people are invited too, like your teacher or advocate if you need someone to support you. There will also be an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). It's their job to lead the discussion at the meeting and help decide your long term plans.
The IRO will make sure you understand what's happening and will talk to you before the meeting starts. They'll ask you if there's anything you'd like to talk about and tell you exactly what'll happen in the meeting so there's no surprises. There will also be an opportunity for you to chair your own review, as long as you're comfortable doing it.
You'll have your first review when you've been looked after for 20 working days (28 days if you count Saturdays and Sundays). The next review meeting will be three months later and after that they'll be every six months.
Remember, your views about decisions that affect your life are really important. You can use the Your Review questionnaire to help you prepare for your meeting.
If you’re a young person in the care system you might like to have an independent visitor (IV). IV’s are volunteers; they’re just normal people who have offered their time to be a friend to you.
If you’d like an IV, we’ll try and match you with one you’ll get on with best. They'll be there for you, meet up with you regularly and spend time doing things you both enjoy. They’re also someone you can talk to if you have any worries or problems.
Our IV’s are chosen carefully to make sure they’re fun and that you’ll feel comfortable and safe with them. Your IV can carry on meeting you until you're 21, or 25 if you opt in for further support via Future Directions.
Other young people tell us they really like having an IV, we hope you will too!
What are independent visitors (IVs) like?
They're all volunteers, who understand and get on with young people. They're all different, so you can tell us the sort of person you'd like, and we can try and find the right person for you.
Who can have one?
Any young person who's living in care can have an IV if it's in their best interests. However, we've a limited number of volunteers so some people might be higher priority than others, for example if they have had a lot of placement moves, are about to have a big change in their lives or don’t see their family very regularly.
What can I expect from a visitor?
Someone who's interested in you, will visit you regularly, listen and chat to you about stuff. They'll also help with advice if you want. All our IV’s are checked and trained to make sure you'll be safe when you're with them.
Where would we meet?
You'll probably be introduced to your visitor for the first time in your foster or residential home. After that you'll decide together where and when you'd like to meet to fit in with both your lifestyles.
How often would we meet?
Visits are usually a few hours once a month.
Will they talk to anyone about me?
IV’s won’t give your information out without your permission and they don’t write reports (but they do record basic details of your visit – like where you went and what you did). They do have a duty to keep you safe so there are some things they need to pass on, such as if you or somebody else was being harmed in some way.
What if we don’t get on?
We'll always try and link you up with the right person. But if things don’t work out just let us know and we'll sort it out.
What if I move somewhere else?
We hope that your IV will be able to visit or keep in touch with you wherever you are, even after you've left care.
If you would like to find out more about the IV scheme you can speak to your social worker, carer or email the IV Coordinator.
How you can get involved
There are plenty of ways to have your say if you're in care in Barnsley. You can read about them below.
The Care4Us Council is a forum for children and young people in care and care leavers who meet regularly to share their ideas and experiences, while representing the voice of other children and young people who are in, or leaving, care.
The Youth Council is a group of local young people who are elected by their peers every two years to represent the views of all other young people living in the borough at a local, regional and national level. Youth council members are elected to represent the voice of all children and young people in Barnsley, the school or college that they attend, and also the area in which they live.
The Youth Council works closely with the Care4Us Council and Barnsley Council in order to make sure that young people’s voices are heard in decisions that affect their lives. They're supported by participation workers from the Targeted Youth Support Service, with members of the Youth Council representing Barnsley in the United Kingdom Youth Parliament and in helping shape the future for Barnsley through the Sheffield City Region. They attend regional meetings and national events, including an annual debate in the House of Commons.
The full Youth Council meets monthly in the council chambers at the Town Hall. Members also attend meetings in their schools and local areas to gain the views of as many young people as possible.
If you're not happy about something
If you’re not happy about decisions made about your care or the services provided for you, talk to your Children’s Rights advocate about it. They'll make sure you're listened to and help you make positive changes.
You can also get free help, advice and support from the Children's Commissioner; find out more in their leaflet or visit the Help at Hand website.