What your social worker does, what a care plan is, what a pathway plan is, what happens at a child in care review.

What your social worker does

Your social worker will:

  • explain why you're in care and help you understand any decisions made about your life
  • help you plan for the future
  • spend time with you
  • make sure you're safe and happy
  • help you work through any problems
  • help you stay in touch with your family and friends, if this is what you want
  • talk to you about your interests and support you to do the things you enjoy
  • be in touch with your school
  • celebrate your achievements and important events in your life

You'll see your social worker every 6 weeks if you're new in care or have moved to a new home. Your social worker must see you every 3 months if you've been in care for more than a year and are settled.

Sometimes you might disagree with your social worker about what you want to happen. If you think they're wrong about something you can talk to:

  • an adult you trust
  • an advocate
  • your Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

Your IRO will contact you before your child in care review.

Care and pathway plans

If you're under 16, your social worker will make a care plan with you. Your care plan explains what's happening in your life now, and includes a plan for the next 6 months. It says:

  • where you'll live
  • who'll look after you
  • when and how you'll see your family and friends
  • plans for your future, including if you'll go home or stay in care
  • information about how your health and education needs are being met
  • any specific needs you have, like language, religious, medical or dietary

Just before you turn 16, your care plan becomes a pathway plan. Your pathway plan explains the support you'll need to live independently when you leave care at 18.

Your social worker will:

  • make sure you're happy with your care or pathway plan and give you a copy
  • make sure actions in your plan happen
  • review your plan every 6 months
  • make sure you agree to any changes to your plan

If you're unhappy with your care or pathway plan

If you don't like something in your care or pathway plan, you should talk to your social worker about it. Your social worker must think about what's best for you, and sometimes you might disagree about what that is. If you and your social worker can't agree on something in your plan, you can talk to:

  • an adult you trust
  • an advocate
  • your Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

Child in care reviews

A child in care review is a meeting where you and the people involved in your care talk about your care plan. Your review is a chance for you to:

  • say what you think about your care plan
  • ask for your care plan to be changed if you're unhappy with it

Your Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) will organise your reviews. They usually happen every 6 months, but you can ask for a review at any time.

Before your review

Your IRO will contact you to decide the best time and place for your review.

Your social worker will give you a form to fill in before your review. The form has questions about what's happening in your life. Your carer, a trusted adult or an advocate can help you fill in the form. Your IRO will look at this form and speak to you before your review to make sure the meeting covers things that are important to you.

Who goes to your review

You, your social worker, your carer and your IRO will go to your review. Your IRO will lead the review. Your social worker will ask you who else you'd like to invite, such as your parents or an advocate.

What happens at your review

You can talk about anything to do with your care and your life. This could include:

  • how you're getting on with the people you live with
  • how you're doing at school
  • if you feel healthy, well and happy
  • seeing your family and anyone else important to you
  • what activities you're doing outside of school
  • any problems you're having

If you find speaking in meetings difficult, you can:

  • ask an advocate to support you or speak on your behalf
  • meet separately with your IRO
  • draw a picture or write a letter to show how you're feeling

What happens after your review

After your review, your IRO will do a review report. This is a record of everything discussed at the meeting. You, your social worker, your parents and your carer will get a copy.

Any actions from your review will be added to your care or pathway plan, and your social worker will make sure that these happen.