Young People's Zone

I am a looked after child

CAN I LIVE WITH SOMEONE CLOSE TO ME?

If you are not able to live with your parents, Children’s Services may be able to arrange for you to live with extended family members (this might be aunts, uncles, grandparents) or with family friends. This is called “kinship care”.  

If this is something you would like to happen, Children’s Services will have to carry out detailed checks (called an assessment) to make sure that this is the best placement for you. They will look at things like:

  • Whether their house is big enough and is safe for children to live in
  • How long you have known each other and whether you have a good relationship with this person
  • Whether they are able to look after you – so this includes thinking about whether they are healthy and well, whether they have looked after children before and how well they did this
  • Whether there are any reasons why this might not be a good idea (for example, if they have been in trouble with the police).

(The part of the law that says this is Regulation 24(1) Care Planning Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010)

You can live with extended family members or close family friends on a temporary basis while this assessment is being carried out. If Children’s Services don’t finish the assessment within 16 weeks (that’s about four months), they can agree for you to stay for up to eight weeks longer while everything is finished (the part of the law that says this is Regulations 24(1) and 25(1) Care Planning Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010)

If everything goes well with the assessment, there are two ways that the extended family member or family friend can become your long term carer:

  • Your kinship carer can become your foster carer. This is called being “accommodated under Section 20”. 
  • You parents agree that you live with the extended family member or friend with support from Children’s Services if you or your kinship carer needs this.  This is called receiving “Section 17 support” (the part of the law that says this is Section 17 Children Act 1989).

What can I do?

Be prepared
Before talking to your social worker about this, it is important to talk to the people you would like to live with. Sometimes the people we care about want us to live with them but it just isn’t possible – maybe because they don’t have enough space or they have lots of other people to look after. It doesn’t mean they don’t want you, it just might not be possible. It is important to check this out first.

Also try to list the reasons why you think that moving to live with extended family or family friends would be good for you. Thinking of these reasons will help you when speaking to your social worker.

Talk to People
Once you have spoken to the people you would like to live with, and if they say it is OK, you should then speak to your social worker. They must listen to you and take what you say seriously. This doesn’t mean things will change immediately. Remember, they have to do an assessment and this can take time.

You can also speak to your Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) (see The Name Game, Become). They are responsible for reviewing the plans that are made for you, including where you live. A good place to discuss this would be at your LAC Review.

Making a Complaint
The law says that where possible children and young people should be brought up within their families and so your social worker should take your request to live with family or family friends seriously (the part of the law that says this is Section 22(C)(6a)&(7)(a) Children Act, 1989). If you feel that they are not listening, you have a right to make a complaint.

Get Some Help
If you still feel that no-one is listening, you can contact your local advocacy service or call the Children’s Commissioner and ask for help. You can find your local advocacy service by clicking here.

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