Foster carers are trained and supported and then paid to look after children in their own homes. Some children will stay with a foster carer for a short time in emergencies, and some will stay as part of a long term plan for their care.
When a child is placed with a foster carer, the child will have their own named social worker, and this social worker is responsible for making sure they are looked after properly. The child is able to turn to that social worker for help and support.
If a child is looked after by a foster carer as part of a voluntary agreement with the local authority, their parent will take part in all the decisions about how the child is being cared for and what they may need. This will be discussed at Care Review Meetings, where everyone who is involved in caring for the child, and the child, all meet to check everything is fine and discuss any problems. If you have worries, don’t wait for the meeting, you can tell the social worker at any time.
When a child is looked after under a full care order the local authority has the greater power to make decisions about the child’s needs, but they are still expected to involve parents, and the child - depending on their age.
If it is not possible to find a foster carer to look after a child, the child may stay at a children’s home. These are normally small homes with less than 10 young people living there, run by a trained staff team. This would not happen with a younger child. However, sometimes with older teenagers this can be a better option as they can find it difficult to settle into a different family home.
Children and young people are encouraged to be involved and say how they feel about how they are being cared for. What they want should be taken into consideration.
There are several useful resources available for more information about looked after children, try CELCIS (Centre for excellence in looked after children, Scotland) and East Sussex Looked After Children.