Services for Children and Young People
Plymouth City Council
Plymouth PL1 2AA
0800 085 8034
Monday to Thursday
8.30am to 1.30pm
OUT OF HOURS
- 01752 346984
Information for children over eight
- What is a foster carer?
- Do I have a choice of foster home?
- Where will my foster home be?
- Will I have my own room?
- Who else will live in my foster home?
- Can I take my things to the foster home?
- How will I afford to buy things?
- How will I get to school and see my friends?
- What ground rules will I have to follow?
- When will I see my family?
- How long will I have to stay?
- What are my rights while I’m in foster care?
- What will my social worker do?
- What if I’m not happy in my foster home?
- Who will stand up for me?
- How can I make a complaint?
- Who can I talk to and trust?
- What information is kept about me?
This page is for children and young people who live in foster homes under the care of Plymouth Children's Services. It will tell you about how foster care works and how you can expect to be treated. It also gives details on the different sorts of advice and assistance available to you.
Plymouth Fostercare has a statement of purpose about what we aim to do for you. This is:
- to make sure we have enough foster carers for all the children and young people who need them
- to make sure you are looked after properly so that you are safe, happy, healthy and achieve in your education
- to enable you to keep in touch with people important to you wherever possible
- to make sure your needs are met and respected and that we take account of your ethnic origin, religion, language and any disability you may have
We will do this by supporting and training your foster carer to look after you. Your social worker will support you in your foster home. Remember, you are very important and there are lots of people who care and want what’s best for you.
A yellow folder called the A-Z guide for looked after children and young people lives in your foster home.
What is a foster carer?
Foster carers are special people who have been carefully chosen and trained to look after children and young people. When a child or young person cannot live with their own family, even if it is only for a short break, they can move into a foster home where they will be safe and cared for.
Children and young people live with foster carers for all sorts of reasons - it’s not because of anything you’ve done. Foster carers do all the things parents normally do such as setting ground rules and supporting you in your education.
Many children find that living with foster carers for a while can be a good thing, even if they didn’t want to go in the first place. It may help you sort out your education, or work through a problem in your own family so you can live together again.
You may worry about what to tell people at school or college about your situation. Some young people like to be upfront while others keep it to themselves. It's a good idea to think about it in advance so you are prepared, and maybe talk to your social worker or foster carer. Remember, your friends like you for who you are, not who you live with.
Do I have a choice of foster home?
We will choose your foster home, but you can help by telling your social worker about the kind of family you would prefer to live with. They will try their very best to find a home that meets your needs, for example one you can share with your brothers and sisters if you have any.
Your foster carer could be a friend or relative you already know, or it could be someone new.
Where will my foster home be?
Foster carers live all over the Plymouth area and your social worker will tell you where yours lives. We will try to choose a foster home in the area you already know, although to find you the best possible family you might have to move a little further away.
Will I have my own room?
If you need your own bedroom then your social worker will try to make sure you get one. Foster children sometimes have to share a room but you will always have your own space.
Who else will live in my foster home?
Foster carers live in family homes, and all families are different.
Some foster carers are single, while others are married or have a partner. Some have their own children, teenagers or grown up children. They may already be looking after children who cannot live with their own families, so you could be living with other people in the same situation as you. Some foster carers have pets too.
Your social worker will tell you all about your foster family. You should also get to meet them before you move in.
an I take my things to the foster home?
We understand how important it is to have your own stuff. Your social worker will help you move, so tell them exactly what you want to bring. Some foster carers will even let you take a small pet with you, if you have one! Don't worry if you forget anything, as your social worker can try to collect it for you.
How will I afford to buy things?
All children and young people who live with foster carers get pocket money. The amount you get depends on your age, so ask your social worker how much you can have!
We will pay your foster carer an allowance to buy things like clothes and toiletries when you need them. They can also pay for you to keep doing your favourite sports or activities, so you won't have to give up the things you enjoy.
How will I get to school and see my friends?
Your social worker will try hard to make sure you can still go to the same school or college as well as see your friends. They may even arrange taxis or bus passes for you if needed.
Every school has a special teacher to help children and young people who cannot live with their families. If you have any problems and would like to talk to them, ask your social worker or class teacher who they are.
What ground rules will I have to follow?
Living with a foster family can be difficult because they may do some things differently from your own family. Although they want you to feel at home, it is important that you respect the way they do things.
Your social worker and foster carer will explain the main rules when you arrive. You will also have a ‘Placement meeting’ with your social worker, foster carer and anyone else who is important to you. Any rules will be explained such as how late you can stay out and when you can invite friends to visit or stay over.
The Placement meeting is also an opportunity for you to tell your foster carer all about yourself including your favourite foods, hobbies and other things important to you.
When will I see my family?
Just because you’re living in a foster home doesn’t mean you have to lose touch with your family, even if things were difficult before you moved away. Your foster carer has been specially trained to understand how important your family is to you.
Your social worker will speak with you about when you can see your family and how often. By law, we have to help you stay in touch with your family if this is what you want and what’s best for you. However, some foster children are in difficult situations which mean that seeing certain family members may not be in their best interests. Your social worker will speak with you if there’s anyone you cannot see for whatever reason.
How long will I have to stay?
Your social worker will explain the plan for you at your 'Placement meeting'. This is called your ‘care plan’ and includes details about your life in foster care including your health, education, when you see your family and friends, and anything else that’s important to you. It’s your right to have a say, so talk to your social worker about what you want.
Your social worker will try to help you return to your family if this is possible. However, your foster carer will support you for as long as you need them. If you stay in foster care for a long time then you may have to change foster homes at some point, but your social worker will make sure you have as little change as possible.
Please talk to your social worker if you ever have any doubts or fears about your future. You deserve to know what’s going on and what you can expect.
What are my rights while I’m in foster care?
- You have the right to be safe, secure and protected.
- You have the right to be listened to and treated equally and fairly.
- You have the right to information, advice, healthcare and an education.
- You have the right to enjoy your religion and culture.
- If you have a disability, you have the right to any help you need to live as independently as possible.
- You have the right to know why you live in a foster home and when you’ll next see your family.
- You have the right to privacy, and personal information about you should only be given to others who really need to know (eg if not passing it on would put you or someone else at risk).
If you ever feel that someone is taking away any of your rights, please don’t be shy about speaking up. Nobody has the right to deny you these things.
What will my social worker do?
Social workers are trained professionals who enjoy working with children and young people. Every child or young person who lives in a foster home should have their own social worker.
Your social worker works for children's services and it is their job to make sure you’re okay. They are in charge of your care plan and will talk to you about what you want.
Your social worker is there to provide help and support and will see you regularly, both on your own and with your foster carer. You should always feel that you can talk to your social worker about anything you’re confused or worried about. If they can’t help, they will try to find someone else for you to talk to.
What if I’m not happy in my foster home?
A month after you move in, you will attend a meeting called a ‘Review’ with your social worker, foster carer, family and anyone else who’s important to you such as someone from school. The purpose of a Review is to discuss how things are going for you and help solve any problems.
If you stay in your foster home for longer, Reviews will also be held after three and six months so you’ll have regular chances to speak up if you're not happy.
If you ever have any worries at all about your care plan, or feel your foster home may not be the right place for you, then you can contact your ‘Independent Reviewing Officer’. This is the person in charge of your Reviews and your social worker can give you their name.
- Send an email to email@example.com
- Use your mobile to send a text to 07795 020994
- Phone 01752 306340
Who will stand up for me?
If you don't want to attend your Review meeting, or would like someone with you, then a 'Barnardos Advocate' can visit you. They are from the 'Barnardos', a charity independent of the council. They will sort out what you want to say and be with you at the Review to make sure your views are heard and your questions are answered.
If you want a Barnardos Advocate, they will meet with you at your foster home or school. They will ask about your situation and what you want changed, and write everything down in your own words. If you tell them anything in private they will keep it confidential (unless what you have said puts you or someone else at risk).
After you have met with them, your Barnardos Advocate will make sure you can take part in your Review meeting, or can go in your place if you don't want to go at all.
Your social worker can put you in touch with a Barnardos Advocate, or you can phone them on 01752 564572. Just ask to speak to an Advocate or leave a message and they'll get back to you soon.
How can I make a complaint?
The Children Act 1989 tells us how we must listen to the views of children and young people in foster care. We want you to tell us if you have any specific problems at all, whether you’re worried about something in your foster home or even if you just don’t like the food your carer gives you.
We’d also like you to tell us if things are going really well in your foster home!
There are lots of ways you can make a complaint or compliment:
- talk to your foster carer, social worker, teacher or any other adult who’s important to you.
- contact children's services’ customer relations team by phoning 0800 0681249, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or filling in and posting the Contact Card given to you with your Foster Care for Me handbook.
- ·speak to a 'Barnardos Advocate’ who is separate from children's services and will make sure your views are heard (see the previous section on ‘Who will stand up for me?’)
Your foster carer is not allowed to hurt you in any way, and nor is anyone else. Never feel like you won't be listened to or that you have to suffer in silence.
Who can I talk to and trust?
You can talk to anyone you trust such as your social worker, foster carer, teacher, family or friends. If you want, your social worker can arrange for you to see a counsellor to discuss your thoughts and feelings.
- If you feel you can't talk to anyone you know, you can ring Childline on 0800 1111. Childline is free, nothing to do with children's services and doesn't show up on phone bills, so you can call in secret at any time.
- You can also visit the Who Cares? trust - a national website for children and young people who live with foster carers.
- If you want to contact us outside of our normal working hours of 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4pm on Friday, you can call the out of hours team on 01752 346984.
- Plymouth Fostercare is inspected by OFSTED who make sure we are looking after children and young people properly. You are also welcome to contact them on 0300 123 1231 or send them an email at email@example.com
We have to keep records about all children and young people who live in foster homes. These are confidential and can only be seen by people who really need to see them.
You have the right to see the information that is held about you. To see your records, please speak to your social worker or write to: Subject Access Records, c/o Data Protection Project Office, Department for Children’s Services, Plymouth City Council, PL1 2AA. We will send you a form to complete and return to us. We will then get in touch to tell you how you can see your records.
You also have a right to see the information that is kept about your health. Ask your social worker how you can see this.
The above information can be provided to Looked After Children in different languages or formats on request.