Young People's Zone

I am a looked after child


If you are safe and happy where you are living, you should not be moved unless there are really good reasons for this to happen. The previous section explains what should happen and what you can do if you don’t want to move.

If the plan is to move you far away from home then there are some other things that you may need to know.

The law says that where possible you must be placed near your home (the law that says this is Section 22C(8)(a) Children Act 1989). This is so that you can stay in contact with friends and family and so that your social worker is nearby so they can visit you and make sure you get all the help (sometimes called “services”) that you need.

If they want to move you far away (often what is called “out of borough”), they need to have really good reasons for doing so. Often the reasons will be:

  • They need to move you far away to keep you safe - This might be because they think that if you are close to certain people they might hurt you. It can also be because they think you are doing things that put you at risk where you are living now and that moving you might help you to stop doing these things
  • They can’t find the best placement for you in your local area - This might be because you need extra help (maybe if you have a disability or need extra support at school) and they can’t find anywhere that can give you that help in your local area.

Moving you far away is a really big decision that needs to be taken very seriously. They need to talk to:

  • You! – Your social worker should always speak to you about any move and find out your wishes and feelings. Even if the placement is far away, they should give you the option to visit the placement so you can see what it is like before they make the final decision.
  • Your family – Normally your social worker should also speak to your family about you moving far away as it may affect how often you see them. This might not happen if you don’t see your family or if the social worker is worried about your family and that is why they want to move you far away.
  • Your Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) (see The Name GameBecome– As with any move, your IRO needs to make sure that the plans your social worker makes are good for you (“in your best interests”) and that everything is done properly. They must think really hard about whether moving you far away is a good thing and can challenge the decision if they don’t agree.
  • If they want to move you a long way away, your social worker must always talk to the Director of Children's Services (that’s your social worker’s Big Boss) to get their permission to move you (the law that says this is Regulation 18 Children’s Homes and Looked after Children(Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2013).

If Children’s Services are moving you because they are worried about your safety, they may try to move you quite quickly but they still have to:

  • Talk to you and your family
  • Tell your IRO
  • Make sure the people where you are moving to know that you are coming so that you can get all the help you need. This includes Children’s Services and schools as well as the people where you are going to be living. (The law that says this is Regulation 14(3) Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010)

What can I do?

Be prepared
It is important that you can explain WHY you don’t want to move far away. Before doing anything else, think about why Children’s Services might want to move you and why you don’t want this to happen.

Think about:

  • Are there any reasons why Children’s Services might need to move you to keep you safe? How could you still be safe if you didn’t move so far away? This might mean changing some things such as the people you see and the things you get up to.
  • How will it affect you seeing your family or friends? Will it be possible to stay in contact when you don’t live nearby? How will this make you feel?
  • How will it affect school? Are you happy in your school and will changing schools be a bad thing for you?

Talk to People
Once you have thought about everything, the next step is to talk to people. You can talk to:

  • Your Social Worker: They should already have spoken to you about moving, but if they haven’t they must talk to you and explain their reasons for the move. They also have to listen to you. The law says that your views must be given “due consideration” which means they have to take what you say seriously (the law that says this is Section 22(4) and (5) Children Act 1989)
  • Your Social Worker’s Manager: If you feel that your social worker isn’t listening to you, you can ask to speak to their manager BUT it is always important that you have spoken (or tried to speak) to your social worker first.
  • Your IRO: They are responsible for making sure that the plans your social worker makes are good for you (“in your best interests”) and that everything is done properly. They can challenge a move if they don’t think it is good for you or that the move hasn’t been planned in the right way.

Making a Complaint
If you are still unhappy, you have a right to make a complaint.

If the move is happening soon, you can ask that it is stopped why they listen to what you have to say. This is called “freezing the decision”. It may be helpful to quote what the government says on this one:

“If the complaint is about a proposed change to a care plan, a placement or a service, the decision may need to be deferred (frozen) until the complaint is considered…… Decisions need to be made on a case-by-case basis, but there should generally be a presumption in favour of freezing, unless there is a good reason against it”

(The law that says this is Paragraph 6.5.1 & 6.5.2 Getting the Best from Complaints, 2006)

Remember, your social worker MUST keep you safe. If they are moving you because they are concerned for your safety, they may not stop the move even if you make a complaint.

Get Some Help
If you still feel that no-one is listening, you can contact your local advocacy service or call the Children’s Commissioner and ask for help to stop the move. You can find your local advocacy service by clicking here.

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