Why Am I Living In Care?

Children and young people live in care for many different reasons. It can be because parents or other adults looking after you aren't able to keep you safe, or they can't meet your needs. There might be another reason for you living in care, and this should have been explained to you by your social worker. If it hasn't been, then you can ask them to explain the reason to you

Every child or young person is unique and has different needs, so the time that you spend in care is different for everyone.  While you are in care, you will meet a range of new people who want the best for you, including professional adults, like your social worker.

A social worker is the person who is responsible for making sure your needs are met and that there's a plan for your future. Your social worker should visit you during the first week of your life in care. After this, they should visit at least every six weeks for the first year you're living in care.

What is Life in Care Like?

Living in care will probably be a big change. It will also be a different experience for everyone. Some young people are much happier living in care than in their family home. For other people, this change can be more unsettling and challenging.

Whilst you are in living in care, you should have everything you need. This will be explained in your care plan. Your care plan is a written document which explains how you should be cared for and describes your future plans.

You will have other plans too for things like where you are living, your health and education. All of the plans should link together to make sure you are getting all of the help and support you need while you are living in care.

Being in care should be a positive experience and you should have:

  • Positive relationships
  • A safe place to live where you are looked after and fed
  • Access to education and training
  • People who listen to you and involve you when important decisions are made about your life
  • People around you who you can talk to and support you
  • The tools to be fit and healthy
  • An understanding of the people who will support you in your life
  • The support you need to move into adulthood

Where Will I Live When I'm in Care?

Where you will live depends on what is best for you and how long you'll be living in care. It’s important that you have the right people to care for you and that you are living somewhere safe.

The places you could live during your life in care include:

  • Residential Children’s Home: this is a house with other children and young people where you will be cared for by a team of staff. You’ll have your own room and there are also shared areas to relax, eat and have fun.
  • Living with Foster Carers: these are carefully chosen people who are trained to look after children in care. In this situation, you wll usually live in the foster carers’ home. There may be other foster children there as well as you. Your foster carers might also have their own children.
  • Living with a Relative: this is called kinship care. This means you live with someone in your family (not your parents) who has been approved by your local authority to be your carer. This could include grandparents, aunts, uncles or siblings.  
  • Respite Care: this is a temporary place to live, and you will not be here forever. You may use respite care if you need to move away from where you normally live. This might happen if your carers are ill, and you need a safe place to go quickly.
  • Secure Placements: this is a residential home (like a children’s home) that is secure. You may have to live in one of these placements if people think you might hurt yourself or someone else. The purpose of a secure placement is to keep you safe, not to punish you.

What Can I Do If I'm Unhappy?

Wherever you are living, you should feel safe and properly cared for. There are always people you can talk to who are ready to listen. This could be your carer, social worker, an independent reviewing officer or another person you trust. You can talk to them  about anything, like keeping in touch with friends and family, getting pocket money, needing to see a doctor or a dentist, or going on holiday.

If you think that you are not being listened to and want to make sure that what you say is heard and acted upon, an independent advocate could help and support you and will always be on your side.

How Can I Get Further Help and Support?

You can contact our national helpline by freephone telephone, online chat, email or WhatsApp. If you prefer, you can ask your social worker or someone you trust to contact us on your behalf.

If English is not your first language, NYAS can provide an interpreter to join your call.

Our Helpline is open Monday to Friday 9.00am–8pm. If you contact us outside of these times, we will be in touch once the helpline opens again.

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