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Care orders – what do they mean?

A care order gives social services parental responsibility. This means that social services, rather than your parents have the job of looking after you and you’ll be assigned to a social worker. Although they will make decisions about where you live and who you see, they should still talk to your parents about important things and they should always talk to you to find out how you feel. A care order will last until you are 18, unless somebody asks the courts to change their decision.

What is a care plan?

It is important that you and everyone involved with you know what’s happening and what the plans for the future are, this is what your care plan is.

Your care plan includes all the different things that matter in your life. These are things like:

  • Where you’re going to live
  • How you’re going to keep in touch with your family
  • How long you’re going to be looked after for
  • Your school and health
  • Your friends and what you like doing in your free time
  • If you are old enough you should be fully involved in making this plan

Interim Care order

An interim care order places the child in care on a temporary basis whilst the family is assessed and until the court can make a final decision about what is best for the child. The interim care order has the same effect as a final care order in giving the local authority parental responsibility to make decisions on your behalf.

Voluntary accommodation

Accommodation provided by a local authority for children whose parents are temporarily unable to look after them or for children who have been abandoned. The purpose of a local authority in giving accommodation is to support children in need and their families. Families give permission for this to happen whilst they try to make a change to what is happening. It is not a way for the local authority to gain control of the child against the parents' wishes. The local authority does not acquire parental responsibility for a child who is accommodated; parents with parental responsibility must consent to their child being accommodated and be involved in all decisions about that child.

Special guardianship order

This can happen after you have been in care for sometime. Your carers or members of your family can apply to count to become your special guardians. This means that you will stop being in care and become part of a new family. You do not have to change your surname, but could do. You are encouraged to stay in touch with your parents. Your new guardian and your parents share responsibility for making decisions about your life.

Residence order

This is another legal order that removes you from care and formally places you in another family who wishes to care for you.

Emergency Placement

This means caring for children or young people who need somewhere safe to stay quickly, usually for a few nights. This can often happen at very short notice.