The Truth Team
Last year Barnardo’s Advocacy Service (CAPs) asked children to complete a brief questionnaire
30 young people completed the questionnaire. The young people who gave feedback were aged 10 and above (including care
leavers,) they were in placements in area and out of area. They lived in a variety of settings. Young people were asked:
What answers they wish they had known before they came into care and what advice would be good for young people in care to know?
They had three important messages:
- Tell your Social Worker about any ideas that you might want to try.
- Get to know your advocate.
- Think of ideas of who you can talk to rather than bottling things up.
Am I going to see my family?
Yes – this will be in your care plan that is first agreed at Court. Your views are really important when making decisions around how much contact there should be. Only in exceptional circumstances is there no contact and this is usually around reasons such as safety.
Can I see dogs in family time?
They are really important family members. This can be discussed with your Social Worker and Karen at the Family Time team. Some children have met with their dogs at family time.
What happens if family time does not happen – who can I contact?
Your social worker should be able to tell you why family time does not happen. You can also contact your IRO or advocate. If there are care proceedings your Children’s Guardian will want to know if family time is not happening.
Are people going to be nice?
Foster Carers have been hand-picked to make sure they are good people who care about the children they look after. They get lots of training about the needs of children and how to listen to children. They are welcoming and really want to get to know you, your likes and dislikes.
Should I do jobs around the house?
It’s important to learn independence skills so you may be asked to do things like help wash up and keep your bedroom tidy, as you get older taking more responsibility for will help you prepare for adulthood.
What is the age for mobile phones?
There isn’t a lower age for mobile phones, each family has different rules. Safety is really important so for some access to data and minutes may be restricted.
Am I allowed a mobile phone?
Most teenagers have a mobile phone nowadays. It’s important to be able to keep in touch with friends and carers. For safety sometimes you may not be able to have a phone for a time but this will be discussed with you, your foster carer and your social worker
Do foster carers buy you things you need?
Foster carers and social workers will always make sure they get you the things that you need. These can include food, clothes, toiletries, games, books, etc. If there is something that you need you can discuss it with your foster carer.
Am I allowed food at any time?
Each household has different rules. Foster carers will make sure you have a regular healthy diet full of food you like and they will listen to you about when you need to eat.
You should be able to have your bedroom exactly like you want even if that means decorating.
Once you move into a new house, foster carers will help you make the room you own. This can mean making sure you have all your important things with you, duvets and curtains that you like and they may redecorate or repaint your room.
Can I stay overnight with foster carers family? Can I go away for weekends with foster carers extended family?
Occasionally yes - we make sure that checks are done so we know that you will be looked after well by other family members for overnight stays or weekends away.
It is important to get your clothes and things quickly when you move placements and move quickly to new placement when you know you have to move.
If you need to move foster carers and social workers will make sure they get all your things together so you can have them when you move to your new home. This includes passports.
What consequences are placements are allowed to sanction ie pocket money? Better systems in place with house rules. Punishments and consequences need to be clearer and more transparent.
It’s important to know the house rules so foster carers will talk with you and together understand and set rules, this may include working towards targets and receiving sanctions that help you learn but do not punish. Pocket money will not be taken from you but it may be held back to pay if things have been broken.
Am I allowed internet use ie YouTube, gaming etc?
This is negotiated with your carer who want to make sure you stay healthy and safe. Parental control software may be used.
Carers need to take you to see friends or if they do not drive they should pay for taxies (have a taxi/bus money jar). Can I have lifts to friends?
Foster carers will make sure you keep in contact with your friends, this might mean inviting your friends for tea, dropping you off at a friends or helping you with the bus fare to see them. Taxis are very expensive and so will not normally be provided.
Can I expect to be able to use public transport?
You will be encouraged to use public transport where safe and given support to learn independent travel.
Is there a list of activities you can have?
Foster carers will help you make a list of activities and where possible help you get to and take part in the ones you like to do.
If you have friends who live near and you want to go out on the block, carers should be clear of time to be in (age curfew).
Yes, It’s important for carers to know that you are safe and enjoying yourself. So, talk with them and stick to agreed times which may change at different times of the year and
Can I go on school trips / trips with carer?
Am I allowed to sleep out? Can I have sleepovers at friends / carers?
If planned, yes, with the permission of your foster carer who has made sure that you are safe.
Am I allowed to go out on an evening?
As ever your safety is the most important thing. Talk with your foster carers who will help you meet your friends and make sure you keep safe
Am I allowed to sleep at a boyfriend/girlfriend/friend’s house?
Children under 16 would not be allowed to stay with boy/girlfriends. Sleepovers to be planned in advance and will be based on age and understanding. Foster carers and social workers can give consent for children/ young people to stay overnight at friends. Checks need to be made like a good parent would, such as speaking to the family, visiting the home and having some knowledge of the family.
We would like an explanation of what happens with payments / benefits when leaving care.
This is really complex and depends on your age and your situation. You can find a complete breakdown on the Care4Us.co.uk website under care leavers and finance.
Do I get Christmas and Birthday money when I’m a care leaver?
Yes, up to the age of 21.
What extra Maths / English tuition can I have?
Your school will decide this during your Personal Education Plan meetings.
How much are things going to change?
SW – Coming into care is a big change for any child/young person and your Social Worker is here to help with that. Lots of work is put into finding the best placement for children and young people and Social Workers will keep you updated with what is happening. You are an important part of your review as it is about you, this is where any changes to your care plan is agreed.
How often does my Social Worker have to come and see me?
Legally, visits have to be every 6 weeks but Wakefield Social Workers try and see children and young people every 4 weeks. They can be more often if you would like.
I would like to understand what is in a care plan.
Information in a care plan includes where you live, why you live with foster carers, what assessments are being done and how your Social Worker is going to make sure you are happy, healthy and safe. There is information about your health, education and Family Time and you can tell people what you would like them to know about you.
Why can’t I choose where my review meetings are held?
SW – you can choose – if you know where you would like your meeting you can tell your Social Worker or IRO. Reviews need to be held somewhere confidential.
Why does the Social Worker have to sign things when we go away when the foster carer cannot sign these things?
SW – some things need parental consent. Your foster carer doesn’t have this for everything so your Social Worker and /or a birth parent will need to provide it.
Why can’t foster carers decide what we can and cannot do, why does the Social worker have to decide instead when the foster carers are like mum and dad?
SW – your foster carer will be able to decide things like house rules, rewards and treats and days out etc but other bigger decisions need parental consent which foster carers do not have. Only Social Workers/ Managers and birth parents have this. This is for bigger decisions like travelling abroad, operations and medical procedures etc.
It would be helpful to understand the difference between foster care and residential care.
Foster care is living in a family home, residential care is living, sometimes with other young people, in a residential home where you are looked after by residential workers. Find out more at Care4Us.co.uk
Can I have tattoos?
Not until 18 years.
Can I have e-cigs?
Keeping healthy is really important so no. Foster carers will support and sign post you to services so you can avoid becoming addicted to nicotine.
Can I paint my nails any colour I like? What hair styles / colours can we have?
It’s important to have your own identity and this is encouraged. As always talk with your foster carers. There may be different rules for schools.
Piercings – what can I have? What age can you have piercings (not just ears)?
Children in care should be granted the same permissions to take part in normal age appropriate activities as would be reasonably granted by the parents of their peers. If children wish to have a piercing they are able to ask their Foster Carer and Social Worker and who would make the decision based their age/maturity/and the views of parents
What can we spend it on? Do we get a say on what it gets spent on?
Carers receive an allowance to make sure you have the things that you need. You will be encouraged to make choices as you get older and encouraged to save for things that you would like. A fraction is considered heating, bills, and clothes. The rest is to be spent on activities toys and equipment
How much is the clothing allowance and how often do I get it?
Depending on age:
A one off payment is made to your foster carer last for the duration of your time in care:
Up to 4yrs £312
School uniforms including shoes should not be out of clothing allowance.
You get a one-time uniform allowance to pay for moving into a new school after that the clothing allowance will be used as you grow out of clothes or they wear out.
Do I get pocket money? How much pocket money do you get and how much of it is saved? Is pocket money clear for each age group?
1 year to 4 years
Do I get Christmas, Festivals and Birthday money?
Yes, your foster carers receive an allowance who can choose how to spend it on you.
Should have own bank account?
Yes, you will have a bank account if you are in a long term placement.
What is my allowance for getting my hair done properly by professional hairdressers that specialise?
If there are cultural needs this needs around appearance this can be agreed by SW and IRO