Young People's Zone

I am a looked after child


It is important that you are happy where you are living. Even when a placement move has been well planned, it can feel strange to be living in a new place and this can make you feel unsettled for a little while.

Some children and young people still feel unhappy even after they have had some time to settle in. There are lots of reasons why you might feel unhappy but some of the most common ones are:

  • Not liking the new carers

It can take time to get to know new people and it is not unusual for children and young people to take a while to get used to new carers, especially if they have different rules and routines that you are not used to. It can be especially difficult for children and young people who have just arrived in care after leaving home. It is important that you can talk to people about this and that you feel supported while things are difficult.

If you feel that the new carers are treating you badly or you don’t feel safe for any reason, this is very serious and your social worker must listen to what you are saying. Your safety is the most important thing and everyone needs to make sure you feel safe and well looked after. For more information, see our suggestions in “What can I do?” below

  • Missing the people that are important to you like your friends and family or your old carers.

Having contact with people you care about is important and when you move your social worker should help you stay in contact with people who are important to you. If this is the problem, please read the sections on contact with family and friends.

  • Having to change schools or being out of education for a while after moving

It is not always possible to keep children in the same school when they move but Children’s Services must do everything possible to make sure that your education isn’t disrupted, especially if you are in Year 10 or 11 (the part of the law that says this is Regulation 10, Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010). If you have to leave your old school, the government says that you should start in a new school within 20 school days of moving to your new placement (the part of the law that says this is Paragraph 20, Promotion of Educational Achievement for Looked After Children 2014).

What can I do?

Be prepared
It is important that you can explain the things you don’t like about your new placement to your social worker or carers as there may be things they can do to make it better.

Try to list the things you don’t like and the changes you want in order to make things better. You might not get everything you want but it should be possible to sort some things out to help you feel more settled. Once you have listed the things you don’t like, have a look at the other sections on this website for advice on the things you can do to tackle specific issues.

You might feel that nothing can make it better other than moving to a new placement. This is something you can ask for but it may not always be possible.

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

  • Your carers: When you move in to a new placement, everyone has to get used to each other and your carers will know that things might be difficult for you at the start. If you feel able to, it may help you to share your worries or concerns with them to see if you can find a solution together. Your social worker can also help you do this.
  • Your social worker: Your social worker should visit you within the first week after you move and then at least every 6 weeks after that. It is important that you are able to talk to your social worker about any problems in your placement and that they help you resolve any difficulties. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about things in the carer’s home, you can ask your social worker to take you out or meet you somewhere different so you can talk freely. School can be a good place to meet.

If you are feeling unsafe, you shouldn’t wait for your social worker to visit but should try to contact them immediately. If they are not in the office when you call, you can ask to speak to the Duty Social Worker or to your social worker’s manager. Children’s Services must make sure you are safe so you should be able to speak to someone when you call.

  • Your Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) (see The Name Game, Become): A LAC Review should be held within 20 working days (4 weeks) of you moving to your new placement (the part of the law that says this is Regulation  33(1) Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010).

This is a good time to talk about any difficulties you might be having.

It can be difficult to talk about problems in meetings, especially if your carers are there. Your IRO should meet with you in private before your review meeting to help you talk freely about any problems.

  • Childline: Childline is a free and confidential helpline for children and young people. If you just want to talk to someone about how you are feeling, you can call Childline on 0800 1111 or chat on-line to a Childline Counsellor at

Making a complaint
If you are still unhappy, you have a right to make a complaint. It is important that your complaints are heard and taken seriously but this doesn’t guarantee that you will get everything you want or that you will be moved again. Social workers often don’t want children to move lots of times so they may try and find a way to make things better without you having to move to somewhere different.

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 to help make sure you are listened to. You can find your local advocacy service by clicking here.

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