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A large mural created by young people of York in care.

Key people who can support you

Many young people will be given a place to stay with a foster carer. Your foster carer will look after you and be responsible for your day-to-day care.

You will live with your foster carer in their own home; they may have other foster children or children of their own living with them too.

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If you are over 16 years old you may live in a semi-independent home where you will have workers instead of a foster carer.

You will have a main worker called a key worker who will support you to ensure you have all the things you need and you can talk with them if you have any concerns. Your key worker will also help you to develop your independence and work towards your goals.

Your key worker will not live in your home, but there will always be a worker available to support you.

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Your social worker provides support to you and your family during your time in care.

Your social worker should make sure you're doing OK and that you're being looked after properly.

When you first come into care, your social worker will meet with you and write you a care plan. If you've got any problems, you can talk to your social worker. They should be able to help you understand any decisions made about your life.

If you're unhappy with the support you’re receiving from Children’s Services, you can speak to your social worker or IRO about this. You can also contact an independent advocate and they can help you have your voice heard about what you’re feeling unhappy about.

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Your Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) will lead your review meetings and make sure your care plan meets your needs.

Your IRO should listen to you, and you can talk to your IRO about how you want your review meetings to take place and how you'd like to contribute to your review meetings.

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An advocate is someone who can support you if you do not feel that you are being listened to and are finding it hard to express your views. It is your choice if you would like an advocate to support you. Advocates are independent which means they are separate from social care services.

An advocate will listen to you and support you to have your voice heard when decisions are being made. They will not share your information with anyone else unless you give them permission or they feel you are in danger. If you require their assistance, they can also speak for you in meetings.

An advocate can:

  • help you express your views
  • help you work out what you want to say and how to say it
  • help you prepare for meetings, such as reviews
  • put your views forward for you or help you speak up for yourself
  • make sure you have information about your rights and entitlements

You can find out more about advocacy support on our introduction to advocacy page.

To request advocacy support for yourself, you can complete our online referral form.

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Independent Visitors (IVs) are adults who give up their spare time to visit and befriend young people who are in care.

IVs are completely separate from Children’s Services - that’s why they’re called independent.

The IV doesn’t replace your carer or social worker, but is an extra person who is there just for you. They visit you because they want to and because you want them to.

IVs can support you and help you make the most out of life. If you wanted to, with your IV you can do activities or learn new things such as:

  • going to the cinema
  • having coffee and chat
  • attending your review with you
  • developing your skills and interests
  • doing things you’ve never done before
  • helping you get your views across
  • helping find out information
  • preparing for meetings involving decisions about the future
  • having fun!

If you would like an IV, please get in touch with us on email: [email protected].

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When you turn 17, you'll be allocated a pathway worker. Your pathway worker is there to support you when you turn 18 and leave care.

Your pathway worker will keep in contact and arrange meetings with you; they will visit you at home and also arrange to meet you in the community. Your pathway worker will provide you with advice, information and guidance to help you make the best choices and decisions.

The relationship between you and your pathway worker is important; make the most of the support they can offer.

You are entitled to support from a pathway worker until you are 25. The amount of support that you receive from your pathway worker will depend on what you want and your circumstances.

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If you're a young person in care who is also a refugee, you might have other key people supporting you or giving you extra assistance.

Social worker

Your social worker will help you get all of the assistance you require in the UK while you are in care.

Your social worker will work with you to create a care plan. This is to support you to ensure you have a place to stay, food, access to a doctor and a school or college.

They will find you a lawyer to assist you with your asylum and immigration status. If you do not speak English, your social worker will use a translator to help you communicate with each other.

They should be able to help you understand any decisions made about your life. Sometimes there may be decisions made that you don't agree with and it is important that you can tell your social worker if you are unhappy. Your social worker will listen to your wishes and feelings.

Lawyer or solicitor

A lawyer is also called a solicitor in the UK. They will assist you in seeking asylum, indefinite leave to remain, and citizenship.

They will contact you about meetings and provide you with information about all Home Office appointments and documents.

You will contact your lawyer through your social worker, or they will contact you.

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