Norfolk In-care Council (NICC) ©2019 Norfolk County Council

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Emergency protection order

An emergency protection order is an order that a Court can make if a child or young person is likely to be seriously harmed. It allows the Local Authority (the County Council) to decide, for as long as the order lasts, where you should live. It will normally last not more than 8 days, although it can be extended to 15 days.

Family placement

Family Placement or fostering is where a young person is cared for by another family. Different people can become foster carers, but they are all people who wish to care for young people. Before Children's Services agrees to allow anyone to foster, very careful enquiries are made about them. A social worker visits their home to discuss their family, and how they would care for a foster child and help that child with any problems he/she may have.

There are many different sorts of family placements. Some foster carers may already have children of their own. Others may not have any, or their children may be grown up and living away from home. The type of home they live in varies too; it may be a house or flat, large or small, terraced or detached, have a garden or not. The type of care foster carers provide also differs. Some are described as short-term foster carers where children stay usually for only up to a few weeks. Long-term foster carers on the other hand, often look after children for many years. Others can provide care at very short notice. Some foster only one child at a time. Others can take several children at once.

All foster carers, however, agree to look after any foster child placed with them as one of their own. They are all paid an allowance to cover the costs of such things as meals, clothes, pocket money. It is your social worker's job to find the family that will suit you best. They then work closely with the foster carers to make sure you get the best possible care. Your social worker will tell your foster carers quite a lot about you, your family and your background, so that they can understand you and help you to settle down. It helps a great deal if you can help the social worker who is giving information about you, as you know most about your own life!

Usually you are able to meet the family before a decision is made that you will live with them. You may make visits to their home and stay over for weekends.

All families are different and being in a foster home may seem very strange at first. There will be new people, new rules and different routines, but your foster family will try to understand how you may be feeling and will try to help you settle into their family life. Your social worker will also be visiting to help you and your foster carers to sort out any problems. Remember, however, the effort cannot be all one-sided, you too must try to fit in with foster family life and routines.

As in all families though, there may be times when you are not getting on so well together and you may be upset or have a lot of arguments. Usually, with some help from your social worker, things can be sorted out and be all right again. Sometimes, it turns out that you and the foster family were just not right for each other and so we look for a different placement for you - perhaps a children's home or maybe another family placement. This does not mean that either you or the foster carers have failed, but it may be upsetting for both of you. Your social worker will still try to find the home that suits you best, and will talk to you to find out how you feel about your future.

Family support conference

A 'Family Support Conference' is usually called after an assessment (See 'Assessments) where the social worker thinks that the children and young people in a family are not at risk of serious harm, but feel that the parents need support or guidance with the care of their children. Lots of people who know the family attend like teachers and important family and friends who are very involved with the children. An action plan is made at this meeting which is designed to help the situation at home to get better.

Independent reviewing officer

Independent Reviewing Officers work for Norfolk Social Services. Their job is to manage or chair your review meeting but they are not otherwise involved with you, e.g. they are not the manager for your social worker.

The Independent Reviewing Officer will come to see you before the review if you would like them to.

Independent visitors

Independent Visitors are adults who give up some of their free time to visit and be a friend to a child or young person who is looked after by Children's Services and who has little or no contact with their families. Together the young person and the visitor plan how they want to spend their time. They may just like to sit and chat, share interests and hobbies or go out on exciting visits and trips.

If you want to know more, you can check out the Independent Visitor page on this site.

Interim care orders

An Interim Care Order can be made by Magistrates in a Family Court to cover the period up to the time when the full case can be heard in Court. Interim means in the meantime. They are the same as full Care Orders because the Local Authority (the Council) is still responsible for you. An Interim Care Order is also made when a Social Workers thinks they need more time to talk to you and your family and that you may need more time to talk to a Solicitor and the Children's Guardian.

Joint working

Whenever possible, your social worker and key worker (or foster carer) will work jointly with you and your parents to find out what is best for you. It is important you are part of this joint working. This can sometimes be called 'co-working'.

Key worker

If you are staying in one of our Homes, one of the staff will work with you, your social worker, family, school, and anyone else who is involved with you, in order to make the time you spend in care as worthwhile and as short as possible. They will be your key worker and be responsible for many areas of your life in the home.

It is important that a good relationship is built up with the key worker so that you can have confidence in sharing your concerns or problems with them.

Leaving care

If you are preparing to live on your own when you leave local authority care, your social worker should have talked with you about plans for your future well in advance. Under the Children (Leaving Care) Act, all young people aged 16+ must have a "Needs Assessment". This will help you to look at all areas of your life as you become a young adult. As a result of your needs assessment you will work with your Social Worker and your Young Person's Adviser to agree your "Pathway Plan". (Your Young Person's Adviser will come from one of Children's Services' Community Support teams - they specialise in helping looked after young people think about and prepare for leaving care, and provide support to young people who have left). Your Pathway Plan will help to map out your future. It should be based on your hopes and ambitions and will set out the things which need to be done (including things you will do for yourself) to achieve the aims which you set. Your Pathway Plan can change and develop as you make progress - it will be reviewed with you at least every six months and will continue until you are at least 21 years old!

Looked after

"Looked After" (or "Being Looked After") are terms used to describe a young person who is in the care of the Local Authority, e.g. in foster or residential care, rather than in the care of their own families. If you do live in care, you may hear another term - "LAC". This means 'Looked After Children' and your Social Worker will be in a 'LAC Team'. (See A-Z of Services for an explanation).