The content on this page has been put together with the help of young people who are in care and aims to offer advice and guidance for children and young people who live somewhere other than with their birth parents.
Sometimes children or young people are not able to live with their parents. This could be down to parental ill-health or family problems. If this happens to you, then the local council will take responsibility for you and become your “Corporate Parent”.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE....In Cornwall there are about 450 children and young people in care at any one time.
Here is more information about being in care and the types of home you may live in….
Depending on what you think you want or need, you can get support from:
- Your social worker, foster carer, designated teacher at school or other worker that you feel able to open up to
- Carefree Cornwall – Carefree works with young people, ages 11-25, who are in and leaving care. Our aim is to give young people in and leaving care the chance to do things for themselves and others.
- Your Children’s Rights Advocate (CRA). This is the person who attends your reviews and whose job it is to make sure you are informed and listened to.
- Independent Advocate - this is someone who does not work for the local authority. Their job is to support you, protect your rights and help you speak out
When you are in care it can be quite confusing knowing what people are talking about. Here are some of the words and what they mean. If you want to know more, or the word you are looking for is not here, ask your social worker, foster carer or designated teacher who can explain it to you....
Corporate Parent – When you are not able to be looked after safely or appropriately by your Mum or Dad or another responsible adult, the local authority where you live (Cornwall Children’s Services) becomes responsible for you. They have things they must do (called statutory duties) to make sure you are safe, are as happy as you can be and are achieving as well possible.
Care experienced young people described social workers as "a person to talk to", "like a second carer", "someone to make sure you get everything you are entitled to" and that they are a "channel from you to other professionals".
These are visits from your social worker who must come to see you at least once every six weeks to see how you are and to listen to anything you want to share or ask. These visits can be at your foster home or out and about, like going for a walk or getting a drink in a café. Social workers will ask to see your bedroom from time to time as they have a responsibility to make sure you have a safe and comfortable room to sleep in.
Another word for being in care
This is the word used to describe where you live such as your foster home or where you live with other young people in a residential setting.
You may also hear people calling it "contact". It is the time when you catch up with family. GetTogether time is different for every young person and depends on weighing up what is best for you so that you get to stay in touch with your family but not harmed any more. Some children and young people see family quite often, others only a couple of times a year. Sometimes it will be out in the community or at a family hub with support workers to make sure everything goes ok. It's important that you have a say in what you want with GetTogether and also understand that your social worker will be thinking about how to keep you safe.
PEPs and Virtual School
PEP is short for Personal Education Plan. The Local Authority has responsibilities to make sure you do the best you can at school and have the support you need to achieve and enjoy school. To help this happen a PEP meeting is arranged every term for the school, you and the social worker to see how things are going. You can attend or give your views before the meeting
Children Act (1989)
The Children Act, 1989 is an important law about children who are looked after by local authorities in England and Wales. It describes in a lot of detail what local authorities must do when they plan and review the care of young people they look after. Another law that is important when you are in care is the Children and Social Work Act, 2017.
This is a legal order made by a judge in court that gives Cornwall Council's Children's Services permission to look after you. There are other orders too like an Interim Care Order which means that Children's Services will take temporary responsibility for looking after you and housing you, until a court decides what is best for you. Section 20 means that we are responsible for you with the agreement of your parent(s).
A child plan is a written document that says how and where you are going to live and be looked after. You should be involved in deciding on what goes in the plan and reviewing it every few months. If you have any special needs such as for health reasons or have a special diet, this will all be recorded in your plan. It may also include details of any clubs you are part of or other activities that you like to do on a regular basis, as well as detailing which school you go to and details of contact with family, relatives and friends.
This is when you get together with your CRA (Children's Rights Advocate) to discuss what is in your child plan and give your views. It happens at least every six months. You can have it as a meeting and you can decide who comes along, or you can meet with your CRA and they will then catch up with everyone else to agree what needs to be in your plan.
A young person who is about to leave care, or an adult who has left care. You officially leave care when you’re 18 and become an adult, but care leavers are counted from the age of 16. At this time you may stay living where you are or maybe move somewhere with more independence. You may also have a change of Social Worker and get someone called a Personal Advisor to support you. Here is more information about being a care leaver.
All young people have Rights. As a child in care, you have certain rights around being supported to deal with difficult experiences you have had, about contact with your family (as long as it is not harmful for you), and very importantly being involved and being asked about your wishes and feelings about your life. This does not mean that you will always get your own way, but that you should be listened to and what you say is taken seriously by adults making decisions. If you feel that your rights are not being upheld, you should talk to your Children’s Rights Advocate or someone you feel comfortable with who can help or speak on your behalf.
If you live in residential accommodation such as a children’s home or hospital here is more information about your rights….
Sometimes things don’t go right. If something is bothering you, it is important to make sure you speak to someone like your foster carer, CRA, social worker, independent Advocate or a someone like a youth worker. If the issue cannot be resolved informally (by talking and negotiating with those people already supporting you), you can make a complaint to the local authority.
This can be done through an online process called Beeline Or through Mind of My Own.
Also, the Children's Commissioner in England has information and a helpline if you need it.
So you know how you should be treated and what to expect in care....here are Cornwall's seven pledges to children and young people...
- To find the best available home for you
- To help you stay in touch with your family and friends
- To help you stay healthy
- To support you to do your best at school and college
- To help and support you to move on from care
- To help you to participate and make sure your voice is heard in the decisions about you
- To help you stay and feel safe
There are more help links on the right-hand side of the page which can give advice about your health and wellbeing.
There is also a group of care experienced young people who sit on the Care4Change Board. They are able to take young peoples views about being in care in Cornwall to the members of the Corporate Parenting Board in order to influence the care and services young people experience.