Living in care can feel difficult at first. Having to live with people you don’t know a lot about can be tough.
These questions and answers should help you to understand how it may feel and ease your worries.
Your carers and your social worker will want things to feel as comfortable for you as they can, so they will try to keep your routine the same where possible.
Some of the things that you were allowed to do at home may have to change when you come into care in order to keep you safe, such as having to be back at the house at an earlier time or not being allowed your phone or laptop in your room at night.
You will also get the chance to try new things when you come into care. You may join a youth club or an activity group, and will be allowed a leisure pass which will let you do activities at local leisure centres. If you have not had a leisure pass and are interested
in one, you can ask your social worker for this.
Your social worker will do their best to make you feel as comfortable and as happy as possible about staying at the home.
You will then be shown around the home, introduced to the staff, foster carers and other young people that may be living there. Your carers will let you know about any important things you need to know about.
It all depends on your own situation. Some young people stay with foster carers or live in residential care homes until they’re older and they leave to live on their own. If this happens, you will get advice and support which will help you plan your future.
This will depend on what your needs are and will be different for everyone. If you’re worried or want to know more about how long you will be staying for you can speak to your key worker, social worker or a member of staff at the home.
You may have a lot of questions or things you would like to say about your birth parents - it can be hard to know who to talk to about them.
Your social worker will have a file of information about you and your family. If you have a question about your birth parents, you can ask your social worker.
If there is something you would like to talk about to do with your birth parents, you can talk to any trusted adult who works with you. You could also ask for counselling sessions and use these to talk about your birth parents if you feel like this is something that would help you.
It’s a good idea to think carefully before telling friends or foster brothers or sisters things
about your birth parents which may be upsetting to talk about or that you wouldn’t want other people to know.
All families are different. They each have different house rules and expectations - it may take a little bit of time to work out what you can and can’t do in your new home.
Your foster carers will spend time with you showing you around your new home and explaining how the house is ran.
If you are not sure about anything or you’re nervous, just ask the carers to explain what normally happens. Foster homes come in all different shapes and sizes.
Every house has rules and living in foster care is no different. At some point
you should ask your foster carers to go through their house rules.
It is really important that you stay in touch with your family, if that is possible, and this is what you and your family want. Your social worker and the people caring for you will help with the arrangements and do whatever they can. It may sometimes be referred to as ‘Family Time’. Your social worker will sort out visits, telephone calls and any other forms of communication with your family.
There are lots of different ways you can keep in touch with your family. You might have supervised phone calls on speakerphone to your family, with a carer or social worker in the room or you might have face-to-face family time:
- this might be in a Family Time Centre, where you can do different activities
with your family such as cooking, playing games or watching TV
- you might go out with your family to places like restaurants, bowling
or the cinema
- your carer might take you to meet your family and stay to make sure
everything is going well
Your social worker will decide how best to see your family. Sometimes, your social worker may decide that it is not safe for you to have family time with your birth family. If this is the case then they should tell you why. If you don’t know or understand why you cannot see your family, please don’t be afraid to ask.
When you are in foster care, you will receive pocket money. The amount you get will depend on your age. You might have to do certain jobs or chores to earn your pocket money.
Your carer will also open a bank account with savings for you. This money is for when you are older, and you will not be able to take it out of the bank account until you have left care or are over 18. In many foster homes, if you break something that belongs to someone else in the home, then you will be expected to pay for this out of your pocket money.
You may have your own bedroom, you can organise your room and personalise it with posters, photos etc., as long as they are suitable for your age and not likely to cause offence. Your room will be checked daily to ensure that everything is OK. Staff will not go through your belongings without your permission.
During your first meeting after arriving at the home we will try to decide who you can and can’t contact. Guests are welcome to come and visit but they must be approved by your parents, social worker and agreed by the manager of the home or foster carers. Visits to your home must be pre-arranged. Your visitors will be allowed to stay an agreed period of time.
Like any young person you deserve the right to have friends who you trust and you can spend time with. Sometimes it can be difficult to make new friends if you have moved away from home but your social worker and carer will help you meet new people. If you have moved away from where you previously lived your carer and social worker will try their best to make sure you still have contact with your friends. It is not always possible to meet your friends because they live so far away but your social worker will do their best to make sure you don’t lose contact.
If you have a really good friend they might ask you to stay over at their house. Your social worker and your carers will need to make sure you’ll be safe there, like any family would.
As we mentioned, some children and young people remain in care until they reach 18 and you may be wondering what happens when you become an adult. Your social worker will support you throughout your teenage years to help you develop the right skills to become a successful adult.