Having your say
It is important that you have your say about the care that you receive from Hampshire County Council.
Your social worker or personal advisor should involve you in your care plan or pathway plan, speak to your worker about how you would like to be involved as one size doesn't fit all.
You can if you wish also chair your own meetings, this is when you're in charge of the direction the meeting should go in, and you will guide the other people through the issues that you want to discuss.
Hampshire County Council feels it's important to hear your views about the care system in Hampshire, there are a number of different activities or events you can get involved in.
Your foster carer, social worker, personal advisor, staff at your care home or IRO should have given you their contact details; email, mobile number or telephone number etc. If you haven't received these details make sure that you ask for them.
Children's Services number - 0300 555 1384
Phone this number to speak to someone about; sources of help and support, reporting concerns for a child or young persons welfare, children with special needs, fostering and adoption or general enquiries - the office will be open between 8.30am and 5.30pm.
Children's Services Out of Hours number - 0300 555 137
This is the out of hours number for Children's Services, call this number if your request is at the weekend/bank holiday or out of office hours.
Citizens Advice Bureau - 08444 111 444,
Offers confidential impartial and independent advice to help people resolve problems with; debt, benefits, employments, housing, discrimination and many more issues. The Citizens Advice Bureau is available to everyone.
Samaritans - 08457 909090
Available 24 hours a day to provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts.
Childline - 0800 1111
Is a free helpline for children and young people in the UK, you can call them and talk about any problem you may have.
Sexual Health Clinics - 0300 300 2016
Lets Talk About It provides specialist services, a full range of sexual health services, you may also see health advisor's, health care support workers, counselling or sexual health promotion staff.
Who to contact in an emergency
Firstly make sure you have numbers saved on your phone such as your social workers/key workers or foster carers so if there was an emergency you can get to their numbers quickly. Your social worker/key worker should provide you with their mobile number or email but if you can't get through to them directly call the duty social worker or the out of hours service.
If you are having a medical emergency and NEED an Ambulance call 999 and ask for the Ambulance Service, and likewise for the Fire and Police Services. Try to remember that the Ambulance and Fire Services can be overstretched so please only call them if you really need them.
Always call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured, or you think their life is at risk.
If you have a non-emergency and need to speak to the Police, call the 101 number and they should be able to advise you on what to do. You would call this number to maybe report a break in or a minor traffic collision.
111 is a medical helpline from the NHS where you can speak to someone if you need medical advice quickly and you don't need to call 999, or think you need to go to A&E, or if you don't know your GP's number or you don't have one and need health information/advice or reassurance.
Sometimes in care, things don't always go as planned and you may feel that you want to complain about something that may have happened that you’re not happy about.
In the first instance try speaking to your foster carer or social worker about anything you are not happy with. If you’re not happy speaking to either your foster carer or social worker then you should contact your IRO who will be able to support you in addressing any issues that you may have around the reason your unhappy.
If you feel that your complaint or issue hasn't been dealt with or you feel you are being ignored, Hampshire County Council has an independent complaints team who will take up your complaint and investigate it further.
You don't have to feel alone in this process, Hampshire County Council can provide you with an advocate or someone such as a foster carer, a teacher or a member of your family who can speak on your behalf.
Making a complaint or raising an issue shouldn't impact on the quality of care and support you get from those around you. Your complaint has the potential to change the service for other children and young people.
You can get in touch with the complaints team via:
• Email: email@example.com
• Phone: 01962 847484 (you can also text this number)
• Post: Hampshire County Council, Children's Services Department, FREEPOST (SCE11221), Winchester, Hampshire SO23 8ZZ (Write CS Complaints Team on the back to make sure it gets there faster)
We all have rights; rights help keep us safe and get a fair treatment, so we can enjoy our lives, different rights are given to you at certain ages, such as buying a lottery ticket or being able to vote.
• You are legally responsible for your actions, so if you commit a crime you can be arrested and take to court
• Between the age of 10 and 17 you will be taken to a youth court
• You can open a current account at your bank with your parents/carers permissions
• You can watch a 12 or 12a film at the cinema
• You can look at your medical records if your Doctor thinks you can understand them
• You can get a part-time job that involves 'light work' and not too many hours like a paper round
• You can get a part-time job that gives you more hours and a wider variety of jobs
• National minimum wage £3.79, until you are 18
• You can watch a 15 film at the cinema
• Children's Services has a duty to ensure your pathway plan is in place before you are 16
• You can leave home without your parents/carer consent
• You can get a full-time job
• Children's Services has a duty to make assessments and meet needs
• You can join the Army, but you won't go on active service until you are 18
• You can open a current account without the permission of your parents/carers
• You can apply for a moped license
• Children's Services has a duty to provide financial support
• You can buy a National Lottery Ticket
• You can get a passport
• You can legally buy a pet
• You can legally have sex
• Children's Services has a duty to provide you with a Personal Adviser
• You can get married/enter into a civil partnership with your parents/carers permission
• You can change your name through deed poll
• Children's Services has a duty to house you if you are deemed a 'child in need'
• If you're aged between 16 and 19 you will be eligible for the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund - this can be up to £1,200
• Children's Services has a duty to provide you with accommodation
• You can leave school, however you will still need to be in some form of education or funding until you are 18 - this is called Raising the Participation Age
• You can apply for a driving license
• You can give blood without your parents or carers permission
• If you're aged 16-17 and a young parent or disabled and in care you can claim benefits
• You can rent or get a mortgage
• You can buy tobacco products or alcohol
• You can get a credit card or loan
• You can get called up for Jury Service
• You can act as an Executor of someone's Will
• You can place a bet
• You can vote in the national and local elections
• You can become a local councillor
• You can buy fireworks
• You can get a tattoo
• You can change your gender
• Your minimum wage increases to £5.15
• You can apply to see your birth records and have your details placed on the Adoption Contact Register
Your rights are incredibly important and they outline your safety and welfare during your time in care. Children's Services has a Children in Care Pledge and this sets out what you can expect from Children's Services as your Corporate Parent.
The Pledge looks at different parts of being looked after such as Your Voice or Your Education and gives you an idea of the type of service you should expect and what you should be entitled to during your time in care.
If you feel that the Pledge is not meeting your needs then you should contact your social worker, foster carer, IRO, key worker etc. and see if you can work together to meet your needs.
Just 4U can match you up with an Independent Visitor. An Independent Visitor is a trained volunteer who meets with you once a month to do fun activities with you. This might be a trip out somewhere, an activity you've never done but have always wanted to try, or just a stroll and picnic in your local park if this is what you fancy.
If you would like an Independent Visitor, we will come and meet you and talk with you about the kind of person you'd like to spend time with. We'll bring you information about people that we think might match up to what you would like, then you can pick the person you think will suit you best. Once you have picked your Independent Visitor, we'll help you meet them and then they will continue to visit with you (about once a month) to take part in activities that you decide on or just to spend time with you - it's entirely up to you!
If you wish to meet up with one of our Independent Visitors then please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org, or get a trusted adult to complete a referral form with.
Hampshire County Council provides two different types of Advocacy Services that each covers a different part of the county.
Both of these Advocacy Services can help you make sure that other people know what your wishes and views are about your care; they can also help you make a complaint if you are unhappy about any of the services you have received. An Advocate will listen to what you want and make sure that other people do the same; they won't tell you what to think and will help you to understand what is being said.
An Advocate can:
• Help you decide what you want to say in any meetings you have about your care
• Go with you to any meetings you have about your care, or go to them on your behalf (making sure that others know what your views and wishes are, even if your there)
• Help you to understand decisions that have been made about your care
• Help you make a complaint if you are unhappy about anything
• Give you easy to understand information about your rights so you can make better decisions about what you want
To get in touch with Speakeasy or Choices please call 01256 332795 or ask an adult you trust to contact us.
What is a social worker?
Your social worker will work with different children and young people and their families to make sure they have the best possible outcomes in life. They may be helping to protect vulnerable people from harm and abuse, they may be working with you to help you achieve your goals, they may be supporting your carer to look after you, acting as an advocate or helping you or your family access the services that you or they need.
Most social workers work with a variety of different people;
• Children with disabilities
• Teenagers with mental health problems
• Young Offenders
• People with drug, alcohol or other substance misuse issues
• Refugees and asylum seekers
• Families where there is a risk of family breakdown
• Children who need to live apart from their families
• Foster carers and adopters
• People, including children who are at risk of abuse or neglect or have been abused or neglected
How do I contact my social worker?
You should have regular visits from your social worker and these should be pre-arranged with you as to when is the best time etc. you should also make sure you have your social worker's mobile number and email, so if you are having problems or a crisis, or even just need to chat then you can contact them.
Family Placement Social workers
Family Placement Social Workers or FPSWs are similar to your social worker, except they focus on placement, such as foster care, respite, and long or short placements. They will be working with carers and your social worker to make sure that the right placement and home environment is found for you, for however long or short that might be.
An FPSW will support your foster carer and their families to make sure that your placement is happy and secure and all your needs are being met no matter how long or short you are placed for. They will have regular meetings with your foster carer to make sure they are happy and you are well cared for.
The law says that when you come into care you must have a care plan and an Independent Reviewing Officer or IRO must be appointed for you. Your care plans say how the local authority to look after you, based on an assessment which includes what you have said you want to happen.
The main job of the IRO is to make sure that this care plan meets your needs and that your wishes and feelings have been properly considered. The IRO does this by chairing your regular review meetings.
The IRO will make sure that the plan for you includes what is best for your long-term stability. This might include returning home or living with friends or family. In some cases, it might be best to be with long-term foster carers or be adopted. Whichever, it is important that you are not moved around from one place to another.
IROs work for Hampshire County Council but not the same part as your social worker. They are managed by one of two Lead IROs, Alison Nealis and Fiona Armfield.
The review meetings that you have are supposed to check that your care plan is the right one for you and that what is in it is actually being carried out. The IRO chairs these meetings to make sure that they are run properly, that your views are listened to and that your best interests are protected.
Your IRO will encourage you to attend your review meetings starts. These are your reviews, and it is very important that you make sure that the IRO knows how you feel and what you want to happen. If you really don't want to come to your meeting, you can still tell everyone what you think and feel by writing a letter or by filling in a consultation form sent to you by your Social Worker.
What sort of things are Reviews supposed to cover?
Your review should always consider:
• Any changes in your circumstances since the last review
• Whether decisions since your last review have been carried out, and if not why not
• Whether your legal status is right and whether it allows proper plans to be made in your long term interests
• Whether contact with friends and family is what you want and what you need
• Whether your placement is right for you
• Your education and what progress you are making, to see whether anything is needed to support you better and make sure you are happy at school
• What activities you are involved in and like doing
• A report on your health and whether any actions are needed to make sure that you stay healthy
• Any help you might need in knowing and understanding who you are and your life history
• What advice, support and assistance you might need
• What preparation you might need for when the time is right for you to leave care
• Whether you have been visited often enough by your social worker and feel that they have listened to you
• Whether decisions for you have been taken and acted upon quickly enough
Planning for leaving care
Planning for when you leave care should start long before you actually have to leave and should become part of your care plan and reviews whilst you are still in care. As a result of this you have an entitlement to a pathway plan when you are 16. This should be just as detailed as your care plan and say how the local authority will be meeting your needs such as keeping you healthy, helping you with education, training and employment, keeping contact with your friends and family and making sure that you have skills and means to manage your money. You must be given the opportunity to have your say in how your pathway plan is put together.
The IRO has a very important role in reviewing your pathway plan and making certain that you only move when the time is right for you.
What else does the IRO do?
The IRO 'Handbook', explained in the Young People's Guide says that the IRO must also:
• Ensure that plans made for you are based on a full and proper assessment of your needs
• Ensure that you understand any changes to your care plan/pathway plan
• Make sure that you are always given your say and that people at the review listen
• Make sure that you know how you can get hold of a advocate
• Act as a safeguard against you staying in care longer than necessary, or not getting the services you need
• Make sure that the local authority acts as a goo parent to you
If the IRO has concerns that the local authority is not doing well enough for you or that review decisions are not being carried out, they will resolve this by speaking with your Social Worker and their Team Manager.
Alternatively they can use something called the formal resolution protocol to ensure that concerns are raised with someone more senior.
Most local authorities do their very best to get it right for children in care and so this should be enough to resolve the issue, but if not the IRO can raise the matter with CAFCASS (The Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service). CAFCASS can take your case to court if they feel that your local authority is not doing what is best for you, or doing enough to respect your human rights.
Your IRO will make sure that you know about your right to complain and provide you with help to get an advocate if you need one.
The IRO has to make sure that minutes are produced following your review meetings.
These minutes are called the review record. This includes the views of all those who attend and any decisions made.