About living in care
Living in foster care
Who is it for?
You can't always live with your family. It might be that your parents have asked for you to be looked after or that a court has decided that you need to go into care. This happens when your parents are unable to properly look after you or if you could come to harm if you stay with them.
When you go into care you will usually live with a foster family. Some other young people might live in residential care.
What’s it like living with a foster family?
Foster carers are ordinary people who have been checked out to make sure they can take care of you safely. They might be married or single, have young or grown up children, or none at all. Your foster carers will take care of everything in your day-to-day life, such as:
- giving you meals
- taking you to school
- going shopping and buying you clothes
- making sure you are safe
- being there to listen and help with any problems.
- the fun stuff – taking you out and about and making sure you carry on doing the things you like
Foster carers understand that it is confusing and upsetting to find yourself living with a new family and that it will take a while to get used to. They might do things differently, like eat different food and watch different TV programmes. Your foster carers will always try to make sure you are as happy and settled as possible while you live with them. As with all families there will be house rules for things like:
- going out
- pocket money
- bed times
- and helping out around the house
How long will I be in foster care?
It depends on your situation and why you have come into care. We will talk to you and your family and then make-a-plan for your future. You might need to be in care for just a short while if your parents are going through a difficult time and then you can return home.
If the court decides it is not safe for you to return home, you will be given a ‘care order’. This means you will be in care until you are 18. You may be adopted or be ‘permanently fostered’ by your foster carers. Your social worker will explain all these things to you and answer any questions. They will also listen to your views.
What happens when I leave foster care?
Whether you return home to your family or are in permanent fostering your social worker will always be in contact with you. It is important that you are honest with them about what you think and want. Then they will know how best to help you.
There will be regular review meetings where you, your parents, school and anyone else important to you gives their views on how you are doing and any help you might need.
Once you reach 18 you become an adult in the law. You can choose to stay with your foster parents, or you might feel ready to move on. We will be there to help with this.
Find out more about being fostered
If you're having difficulties at home, you may be thinking about fostering. You should contact us before the situation reaches crisis point. We will do an assessment of you and your family to work out how best to help you. If it is at all possible for you to remain with your parents or a relative without harm we will help to do this first.
You might want to speak to an adult you trust, like a teacher or youth worker.
Get in touch with us to find out about being fostered.
Email: Single Point of Advice team
Living in residential care
Residential care is when you live in a home with other young people, with staff who look after you.
Who is residential care for?
You can’t always live with your family. It might be that your parents have asked for you to be looked after, or that a court has decided that you need to go into care so you can be safe.
What’s it really like living in residential care?
Residential homes look like any other family home and they are in nice areas near to schools and shops. You will have your own room.
Living in a different place with new people can take a while to get used to. But the staff at the home will do all they can to make you feel at home. They will take time to get to know you and the things you like.
There will be a very small number of other children living there with you. They will have had similar experiences to you and will help you feel at home.
When you live in residential care you will carry on going to school. You will also have time to see your friends, do activities and have time out for holidays.
Lucy, who was 16 and lived in residential care for three years, said:
‘Although you don’t live with your family, staff at the homes become like family to you’.
How long will I live there?
It depends on your situation and why you have come into care. You will have regular reviews with the people supporting you to find out if the residential home is still the best place for you to live.
We get together with you, your family and social worker to make a plan about your future. Where possible, the plan is to help you return home.
If this is not possible, your social worker will explain all this to you and answer any questions. They will also listen to your views.
What happens when I leave care?
The residential staff will help you settle into your new place and keep in touch with you and support you. Once you reach 18 years old and you legally become an adult, you will still receive support as a ‘care leaver’.