Information for young people about coming into care

Information for young people about coming into care

What is care, why you might come into care, what happens when you come into care, what to expect when we care for you.

What is care

Living in care is when you live away from your parents. You could live:

  • with foster carers
  • with other family members
  • in a children’s home
  • in a residential school
  • semi independently, with our support

When you come into care, Bristol City Council is responsible for making sure you have somewhere safe to live.

Why you might come into care

Children and young people come into care for different reasons. It could be because:

  • your family cannot look after you at the moment
  • things are difficult at home

Your social worker can explain why you’ve come into care. It’s never your fault.

How you come into care

You can come into care through:

  • a care order, which is decided by a court
  • Section 20 of the Children Act, also known as voluntary accommodation, which is when your parents have agreed for you to come into care or have asked for this to happen

Care orders

Sometimes we’ll ask a court to decide if you should live away from home. This happens when we’re worried about your safety, health or wellbeing. If the court agrees, they’ll make a care order. This means that we’re responsible for your safety, health and happiness. You’ll get a social worker and they will have the final say on important decisions about your life, like:

  • who looks after you
  • where you live
  • where you go to school

You’ll always have a say in what happens to you, and your social worker will ask you what you think. If you feel people aren’t listening to you, you can talk to a trusted adult or an advocate.

Section 20 of the Children Act

If you come into care under Section 20, your parents have agreed for you to come into care or have asked for this to happen.

Section 20 is similar to a care order. You have the same rights and can ask for an advocate if you feel people aren’t listening to you. The only difference is that when you’re cared for under Section 20, your parents have the final say in things that happen to you. Your social worker will have to get your parents' permission for important decisions, like:

  • where you live
  • where you go to school

If you’re cared for under Section 20, your parents can take you home at any time.

What happens when you come into care

If you don’t already have a social worker, you’ll get one as soon as you come into care. They’ll make sure you’re cared for in the best way possible and will:

  • find you a home, normally with foster carers
  • make sure you attend school
  • make sure you get any healthcare you need

Your social worker will visit you in the first week of your new home, and then every 6 weeks after that. If you’re still in care after a year and you’re happy and settled, they might not need to visit you as much.

Find out more about what your social worker does.

How long you’ll be in care

How long you’re in care depends on your situation. Some children go into care when they’re babies, some are a bit older, and some spend a short time in care before going back to live with their parents.

If you don't go back to live with your parents, you can be in care until you’re 18 years old. When you’re 18 you’re an adult and you become a care leaver. If you’re a care leaver we can help you until you’re 25. Find out about our local offer for care leavers.

What to expect when you’re cared for by us

When you come into care, we become what’s known as your ‘corporate parent’. This means that we have a responsibility to look after you and make sure you’re as happy, healthy and secure as possible.

Our pledge to children in care and care leavers explains how we’ll look after you and help you achieve your full potential.

More information and support

Coram Voice has information and advice for young people in care and care leavers.