If you are ‘looked-after’ by Children’s Services (in care under a care order or with the agreement of your parents), you may not be having as much contact with your family as you would like. This can often be a stressful situation but you should remember that these decisions will have been made with your best interests in mind.
Can I see my family if I am in care?
Children’s Services, by law, must allow you reasonable contact with:
- Your parents
- Your legal guardian (if applicable)
- Any person who had a court order for you to live with them before you went into care.
Children’s Services has a general duty to support contact with wider family members such as your grandparents and siblings.
Children’s Services may not let you have contact with your family if they think that contact would put you at risk of harm.
What if I am unhappy with the level of contact Children’s Services are allowing?
Talk to your Social Worker about your views and feelings on contact. If you have an advocate, they may be able to talk to the Social Worker for you.
When you are looked after, you will have a plan for the important aspects of your life. The main one is called your care plan. The care plan will explain what your needs are, how these needs will be met, and the general plan for your future. The care plan will also describe the contact arrangements with your family. You should be spoken to and listened to when the care plan is being written and also when your plan is reviewed so you should have a further opportunity to make your voice heard.
You should speak to your Independent Reviewing Officer if you cannot agree with Children’s Services about contact arrangements. Their job is to ensure your best interests are being met.
If contact arrangements cannot be agreed, then you can also complain to Children’s Services about this. You should ask your advocate for help with this. For more information see our page on Complaints to Children’s Services.
You may also want to see a solicitor for help in getting contact. Your solicitor would be able to talk you through the process of getting an order from the court and will make the application on your behalf. Any order that you get from the court will be legally binding which means that Children’s Services must let you have the contact in the court order. Visit the following webpage to find out more information about accessing solicitor though legal aid: https://www.gov.uk/civil-legal-advice
Find out how you can access support with this issue by contacting the Coram Voice free Advocacy Helpline for Children and Young People on 0808 800 5792 or visit www.coramvoice.org.uk/alwaysheard