What it means to be looked after or in care

Information on what it means and who you can talk to
Two young men sit on a bench

When someone is 'in care' or 'looked after' it means that Oxfordshire County Council takes on some of the parental responsibility for you. We are sometimes called your ‘corporate partner’ and this means social workers, teachers, and others make a pledge to do what’s best for you in your life.

Why are some young people in care?

There are all sorts of reasons why young people are looked after, including:

  • their parents have agreed that they should live away from home for a while (if this happens, only their parents can make decisions about them)
  • a court has ordered that they live away from home to prevent them from being harmed.

Courts normally issue a care order in these circumstances and young people will usually live in a children’s home or with a foster carer.

Care plan

If you have been given a care order, the county council will work with your parents to make important decisions about your care, such as where you will live and where you will go to school, but the council has the final say. What is finally agreed and decided will be written into a care plan, and you will be given a copy if you are old enough. The only time when your parents might not have as much of a say is if you are at any risk.

Your care plan will decide:

  • where you go to school/college
  • when you see your family
  • what you want now
  • what you want to do in the future.

Other people who will be involved with your care plan include foster carers and other people concerned with your care, like teachers. Your care plan may change over time so we review it regularly to make sure that your changing needs are met.

Your family

It’s very important that you are able to keep in touch with your family while you are looked after, if it safe for you to do so. You can do this by:

  • writing letters (and drawing pictures, if you like!)
  • picking up the phone to say hello
  • visiting your family and maybe staying for the night.

If you are unhappy about seeing your parents or any other person, let your social worker know why. You really don't have to have contact with someone if you don't want to.

Your friends

There's no reason why you can't continue to see your friends; they can be a great support for you and having close friends to talk to can really help. You might want to think a little bit about what to say to friends if they ask why you are being looked after and how much you want to share with them. Your carer or social worker can talk this through with you and give you some advice.

Help and support

If there are times when you miss someone you really care about, you might feel angry or sad. These feelings are completely natural – especially when the person you are missing is a relative, special friend or a pet. If you do feel sad, angry or rejected, it helps to talk to someone, such as your social worker or carer, which might help you to understand why you might feel like you do.

VIVA is run by the council and provides independent visitors and advocates for Looked After Children/ Young People, Care Leavers, and those who have social care support

They welcome self referrals from Young People that require independent advocacy service or would like to become a 'Peer Advocate' for other young people.

Contact them at VIVA@oxfordshire.gov.uk or 01865 328670

Your pocket money

When you are looked after, you will still get pocket money, but the amount will depend on your age and circumstances. You can ask your social worker or foster carer how much money you will get, how often and who will give it to you.

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