Young People's Zone

I am a looked after child


It can be unsettling moving to an emergency placement and it is important that you know how long you will be living there and what will happen next.

When you are placed in emergency foster care, this is only initially agreed for 6 working days (that means Monday to Friday, not counting weekends) (the part of the law that says this is Regulation 23 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010). This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t or won’t stay in that placement but it means that some paperwork and checks have to be done to decide if you can stay longer.

Before deciding whether you stay or move to somewhere new, your social worker should talk to you about what you would like to happen. If they are planning for you to move again, they should talk to you and ask you what you would like to happen. If there is time, you should be offered a chance to visit the new placement although this may be difficult in the time available.

It is important that plans are made quickly as being in an emergency placement can be unsettling, can disrupt your education and affect other things like seeing family and friends.  While Children’s Services don’t have to arrange a LAC review meeting, where possible your social worker, Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) (see The Name Game, Become) and other professionals should be talking to each other to make sure that new plans are made as quickly as possible (the part of the law that says this is Regulation 14(5) Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010).

What can I do?

Be Prepared
Living in a new place and not knowing what is going to happen next can be really confusing and upsetting but your opinion is really important. Although it might be hard, try to think about what you would like to happen next.

Try and think about:

  • Do you like the emergency placement? Would you like to stay there or would you prefer to be moved again?
  • If you want to move again, why do you want to be moved? What kind of place would you like to live in (e.g. foster care, children’s home)? Where would that be?
  • When deciding where you want to live, try and list the things that are most important to you about the next placement. Is it important for you to stay at the same school? Or is it important for you to be near friends and family? Are there other things that are important to you about where you live next?

Talk to People
Once you are clear about what you want, the next step is to talk to people. You can talk to:

  • Your Social Worker: Your social worker should already have spoken to you about what is happening, but if they haven’t it’s important to speak to them and tell them exactly what you want. It might be hard for them to give you everything you want but they 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 part of 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 or they haven’t been in touch with you since you moved, you can ask to speak to their manager. It is important that you have spoken (or tried to speak) to your social worker first but being in an emergency placement is difficult so you have a right to speak to someone if your social worker is not around.
  • Your IRO: They are responsible for making sure that your social worker is working hard to make the right plans for where you are going to live next. They should know that you are in an emergency placement and should be speaking to your social worker about what is going to happen next. You can call your IRO or you can even ask them to arrange a LAC Review meeting so everyone can come together to think about what happens next.

Making a Complaint
If you don’t getting any answers to your questions, you have the right to make a complaint. The only problem with complaints is that they can take a long time to sort things out and you probably want to get things sorted out quickly.

A quick way around this is to call the Complaints Officer (just call the main number for your Children’s Services and ask to be put through to the complaints team). You can explain your situation and see if they can do anything to help get things moving. You can find your local complaints team by clicking here.

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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