M to Z
This term refers to the duties that parents have to care for their children, to keep them safe, and to take certain decisions on their behalf.
Generally, your mum automatically has parental responsibility, as does your dad if your parents are married. If your parents aren't married, your dad can agree with your mum that he will share parental responsibility, or he can apply to the Court to have such responsibility. If a Care Order is made, though, decision-making about you will, in most cases, take account of the views of your parents, and in all cases, of your views.
Placement with parents
Even if a child is subject of a Care Order, they can live at home. However, before this happens, there has to be an assessment and a decision made that the child will be safe and that it is in their best interests.
"Quality Protects" is a programme from the Government to make sure that Children's Services, Education, Health and other Services help young people in care to have the same chances in life as others.
The Government wants every young person in care to have:
- a stable home with carers that look after you properly
- protection from abuse and neglect
- the best chances for good education and health
- the right services for your needs
- The right sort of home for your needs if you have a disability
A referral can be received from a variety of different sources, such as a doctor, family friend, school teacher, nurse or relative who might contact Children's Services to say they are worried about something that is happening within a family which could mean that the children or young people within that family are not safe or are not being looked after properly. A young person or parent could also make a referral by contacting Children's Services because they cannot cope or want help.
After a referral is received, an assessment will then take place. (See 'Assessments')
A review is an important meeting where you can talk about what has been happening in your life and make future plans. You have the right to attend your review and have somebody with you, if you need some help to have your say. You can write your views down if this is easier for you than talking.
If you are Looked After, you can expect to have your first review within four weeks of a move to a new placement, then after three months, and then every six months. You have the right to be asked about who attends or does not attend, but it may not always be possible to go along with your views. If this should happen, the reasons will be discussed with you.
There is a special form for writing your views on and this should be given to you before the review.
When a group of people live together there have to be some rules for everyone's benefit. In every home and school there are things you are allowed to do and things you are not allowed to do. Everyone is subject to rules, including the adults looking after you. We want to encourage young people to behave well by forming good relationships.
But, as in most families, if you break the rules you must expect something to be done. Carers try to make sanctions relevant to the rules broken. For example, if you come in late you may not be able to go out again for a while. If you break something on purpose, you have to pay something towards it being replaced. Sometimes, a sanction will be doing extra jobs, or not being allowed privileges such as staying up late at weekends, or watching a favourite TV programme.
Staff in residential homes and foster parents are not allowed to hit you. Very, very occasionally, it may be that you or someone else in your home is being ill-treated or punished far too much. This is something that you must tell your social worker about, so that your problem can be looked into and sorted out.
If a young person develops behaviour that leads them into danger, e.g. frequent running away, injury to themselves or others, or committing a serious offence, Children's Services can decide that they need to be in a place where the doors are locked and there is close supervision by staff. This is called Secure Accommodation. No child, however, can be kept in secure accommodation for more than 72 hours (3 days) without agreement from the Courts - called a Secure Order. The Secure Order can last up to 3 months, but it can be extended to 6 months by a Court if Children's Services think it's necessary. Secure accommodation is not used as a punishment and there are rules about when it can be put in place.
You can appeal against a Secure Order and your parents must be told that you are being held in secure accommodation and of the need to go to Court after 72 hours.
If you are placed in secure accommodation, your situation will be reviewed at regular intervals so that arrangements can be made for you to leave as soon as it is felt safe for you to do so. Arrangements for reviews will be explained separately to young people who are in secure accommodation.
A Supervision Order is a Court Order that can be made for two main reasons. Either the Court feels there is a need to safeguard the welfare of a young person who is likely to be harmed, or the young person has been involved in criminal offences and the Court wishes to have someone to give them support and advice to stop offending.
You are not in care when a Supervision Order is made, and usually you live at home. A social worker or probation officer will act as Supervisor and see you often, to check how you are getting on and to make sure you are safe.
An order lasts for at least one year, but can last for up to three years. It is possible to add conditions to Supervision Orders, such as requiring young people to take part in specific activities, live at a particular place, or report at particular times.
You can apply to the Court for a Supervision Order to be ended, or appeal against the Order if you think the Court's decision needs changing.