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A guide to being looked after


We put this guide together to help you and others like you who have just come into care. It will tell you what it’s like to be in care, what to expect and how to cope with the good and the bad.

We know you’re feeling scared and you feel like you’re the only one in the world that this has happened to. You probably feel really lonely and as if there’s no one who understands or who you can talk to.

But don’t worry, you’re not alone, there are lots of people who are in your shoes.

We understand why you might be feeling scared. There are people who will help you and who will listen. We’ve tried to cover everything in this guide that we thought you would want to know. We hope it helps. If there is anything not included here, please speak to your carer or social worker. We are here to listen to you.


You’re probably asking why this has happened to you and when you can go home.

There are lots of reason why you might be in care. Often it’s because your family are not able to care for you at the moment or that things are difficult at home. Your social worker will be able to tell you more.

While you are in care the person looking after you will be able to make sure you are safe and looked after.

Your social worker will look at what’s happening at home and try to help make things better so you can return home as quickly as possible. Sometimes this may happen quite fast, while for others it may take longer. Some young people will stay in care until they are old enough to live on their own.

You will find out what is planned for you during your looked after review. If you have any questions, ask your social worker – they are there to help you.

If you feel worried and need to talk you can always speak to your social worker or the Participation Team.

There are lots of other young people in care that you can talk to and who can be your friend – they are going through the same thing as you


Everyone knows that it is really important for you to see your family.

If it is safe for you to meet with family members, a social worker will arrange regular times to see them.

These may take place in a family centre, a community centre or sometimes at home. This is called ‘Family time’.

There will sometimes be someone supervising who will be present during family time.

Family time will only happen if it’s safe for you and it’s something that you want to happen


Foster Care

Foster care is a place where you live as a family, when you can’t be with your own family. Your foster carer will support you with your day-to-day needs while social work staff make decisions about where youcan live in the future

Family & Friends

People who have offered to look after you while your parents can’t.

Residential Home

You live here with other children, and staff who will care for you.

Respite Care

This is a stay in a foster home or a children’s residential home for a planned amount of time only, and is to give you or your parents/carer support and a break if needed. 


Useful Resources and Websites

Get in touch with us if you find another website that may be of interest to others and we can include it here

Useful Resources and Websites

Get in touch with us if you find another website that may be of interest to others and we can include it here

Know Your Rights

The Convention on the Rights of the Child explains who children are, all their rights, and the responsibilities of governments.

Coram Voice

Every day Coram offers direct, practical help and emotional support to vulnerable children, young people, and their families.

Sandwell Virtual School

The Sandwell Virtual School (LACE) has high aspirations for looked after children and ensure that children and young people are given every opportunity to access the best education, giving them the chance to achieve their potential.

Help at Hand

If you’re in care, leaving care, living away from home or working with children’s services Help at Hand can offer you free support, advice and information.


For 30 years, we’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with children in care and young care leavers, helping them get the support they need.


Horizons is Sandwell Children’s Trusts dedicated Child Exploitation Team who specialise in supporting children and young people abused through all forms of exploitation.

Youth Justice

The Youth Justice Team is a group of professionals from Children and Young People, Health, Police and Probation services working with young people who are at risk of offending or who offend.


The DECCA (Drug Education, Counselling and Confidential Advice) Team are Sandwell’s young people's alcohol, drug and tobacco service.


Childline is yours – a free, private and confidential service where you can talk about anything. We’re here for you online, on the phone, anytime.

Children's Commissioner

The Office of the Children's Commissioner for England is a non-departmental public body in England responsible for promoting and protecting the rights of children as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as other human rights legislation.

National Youth Agency

NYA is the national body for youth work, and the Professional Statutory Regulatory Body (PSRB) for youth work in England. 

British Youth Council

The British Youth Council empower young people aged 25 and under to influence and inform the decisions that affect their lives.