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A. A Care Plan is the plan for you, which the Judge has to see and agree with before a Care Order can be made. The Care Plan should state where you will be living. Your Social Worker, your parents and you will be involved in making the plan. Your Children's Guardian in the court case will also have a say. Your Children's Guardian was the independent social worker the judge appointed to give him advice about what was best for you and to tell him what you thought about the plan. The plan will cover things like: what you need to be looked after properly, where you will go to school and who you will see.
Before the Judge makes a Care Order he will have to "OK" the plan and will want to know exactly what you think of it. It is very important for this reason. You may not always get what you want but if you don't, the reasons should always be carefully explained to you. Social Services should then follow the plan once the Care Order is made. If your Care Order was made before October 1991, you may not have a care plan. When there is no plan, you can ask your social worker to prepare a plan for you.
A. Your social worker will come and see you regularly. How often your social worker visits will depend on how you are getting on.
You may be asked whether you want to see an Independent Visitor. These are people who don't work directly for Social Services, but are trained and experienced in listening to young people who are not living at home. They can visit a young person on a regular basis and be around to discuss concerns or worries, or just be someone with whom you can spend some "time out". If you feel this would be useful for you, your social worker should be able to arrange this for you.
A. No, normally your Children's Guardian and solicitor will no longer be involved, unless there is another application to the court or some parts of your care plan are referred back to the Court. If you have been seeing other people (for example doctors) who have prepared reports for court, you may not see them again or if you do, you may not see them so often. You will probably not see your social worker as often, but you should see him or her every six weeks. You can ask to see your social worker more often if you want to. You will have a review every six months because the Children Act says that Social Services have to do this (see separate section in relation to Reviews).
A. This can be a problem because you need to have very good reasons before a change of social worker might be considered. An example of a good reason might be that you are not able to talk to your social worker about things that are important to you. If you feel that you cannot discuss important matters with your social worker, you should talk about this at your Review or ask to speak to your social worker's boss, usually the Team Manager (see separate section in relation to Reviews).
A. You should have a Review every six months and the Review meeting will be run by someone other than your social worker, an Independent Reviewing Officer (See section on reviews).You should be asked before the meeting for your views and this is a chance to bring up important things. People in one of the organisations listed on the further contacts page will be able to help you prepare for your Review. You do not have to wait for your Review to raise these matters with social services. You can ask to speak to your social worker's boss at any time and you can also contact the solicitor who acted for you in the care proceedings or another solicitor, as she or he will be able to advise and help (see section on Complaints).
A. Your Care Plan should say where you will be living. You may already be living with foster carers or in a children's home or you may be living with your parents or a relative. Your social worker decides where you live, although she should ask you where you want to live and talk to your parents about it.
A. There are lots of different kinds of foster homes. Some foster homes are called "short-term" foster homes because they only take children or young people for a few days or weeks (but it might be for longer). It might be "short-term" while other plans are made. "Long-term" foster homes will take children and young people for a much longer time, usually until they are ready to leave care. Some foster homes are called "task centred" and they take children for a special reason, for example to help you go from a children's home to a permanent family, or to help with a special problem you may have. How long you stay may depend on what kind of foster home you are in.
Your Care Plan should say which kind of foster home you are in or you are going to and how long you will be there. It may be that you will have to move somewhere else to live but you should know whether this is in the plan that is made for you when the Care Order was made and any change should be discussed with you.
A. If you are really unhappy you should talk to your Social Worker. Sometimes it is hard if your foster carer is around. Ask to see your social worker alone because it is Social Services job to make sure you are being looked after in the best possible way. If you cannot talk to your Social Worker, or the Social Worker has not agreed that you should move and you are still unhappy you should think things over and then perhaps try to talk to your Social Worker again. If you really cannot sort out the problem then you could try contacting one of the agencies on the Home page who will listen to your worries and should be able to help.
You could also contact your solicitor, who can talk again to Social Services for you, or another solicitor may be able to advise and help you. Any solicitor you use should know about this area of work. The Children Panel is a list of specialist children lawyers (see further contacts page). How you feel is very important and Social Services should listen very carefully to what you have to say.
A. You should go back to your solicitor or another solicitor in your area on the Law Society's Children Panel, and ask if they can help you talk to Social Services or advise you whether you can go back to court to discharge your Care Order. Your solicitor will be able to advise you whether this is possible in your case. If you have already applied and failed, you cannot ask the Court to discharge your Care Order until at least six months after your last application without special permission from the Judge.
Another possibility which your solicitor can advise you about is whether you can apply to the court for a Residence Order to live with someone else, for example a member of your family. If you are successful in obtaining a Residence Order this would discharge the Care Order automatically. Look at the further contacts page for people who should be able to help.
A. You can ask your solicitor whether you could go back to court and apply to discharge the Care Order. The court will want to know where you think you should live. If your parents or someone else are able to care for you and you would like to live with them your solicitor may ask the court to make a Residence Order to that person. This would automatically discharge the Care Order. You should think very carefully before you do that, as there may be benefits to you in staying on a Care Order (see section on leaving care). Try to talk it over with your social worker or key worker, or someone else you trust (see section below).
A. It can be ended by the court making the following orders:
2. Residence Order
3. Special Guardianship Order
4. Adoption Order
A. Usually the social worker cannot make this decision alone. It will have to be talked about at a Review meeting. Even if this doesn't happen, the Judge will have to agree that it is a good idea and will want to hear what you think about it first. Usually your Children's Guardian and the solicitor who helped you when your Care Order was made will be given the job to help you again. If the Order was made a long time ago, you may get a new Children's Guardian and solicitor. They will make sure the Judge knows your views and about any worries you have.
A. The solicitor who acted for you in the care proceedings or another Children Panel solicitor (see section Further Contacts) will be able to speak to Social Services for you and make a formal complaint if the problem cannot be solved quickly (see separate section on Complaints). Every Social Services Office should always have a social worker who is "on duty" i.e. in the office all day and available to take telephone calls and take messages. During any period when you do not have your own social worker, someone from the duty team should be able to help you. Your previous social worker's team manager may be able to visit you.
A. If you have left a large number of messages for your social worker, and she/he has not returned your call or come to visit, you could telephone the solicitor who acted for you in the care proceedings, or any other Children Panel solicitor to find out if a formal complaint should be made (see separate section on Complaints).
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