Being in care

Being in care means that Children's Social Care are responsible for making sure that you have somewhere to live and someone to take good care of you.

This can include staying with foster carers, living in a children's home or residential school, and sometimes with an adult you or your parents already know.

Sometimes, being in care is called 'being looked after'. This is the legal way to say 'being in care'.

What is a Care Order?

A Care Order is made by a court.  If there is a Care Order, the court has decided that the Local Authority should have responsibility for looking after you and you are likely to be living away from home.  You probably won't have to go to court if a Care Order is made. A Children's Guardian may go to court for you. They find out what you think and feel and explain your views to the court. 

Your parents and Children's Social Care are jointly responsible for you as long as the Care Order is in place. Your parents can't take you home unless Children's Social Care agree.

What is ‘being accommodated’ or 'section 20'?

This is when your parents and Children's Social Care have agreed that it would be best for you to be care for away from home, either for a short period or for the longer term.  Your family may ask for you to go home at any time but it's best if this is planned and agreed with your social worker. Your views should always be listened to in any decisions made.

What are files?

While you are being looked after, information about you and your family or carers will be written down. This information is kept in a confidential case-file, which can be a paper file or an electronic file.

The records have to be kept until your 75th birthday. They have to be kept safe and secure, so that only the people with the right to see them can look at them. This is people who need to know so they can give you better care and support.

Lots of other information goes into this file such as:

  • reports
  • plans and agreements
  • records of reviews
  • important decisions made about you

You have the right to see your files and read the information written about you, however this can be quite difficult and so it needs to be at a time that is right for you.  Life story work is often a better way to access this information as it is done in a planned way with a worker that you get to know over time.  You cannot see information kept about other people such as members of your family, unless they agree and you can only see things written by other people, like doctors and teachers, if they say you can.