What does being a child in care mean?
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What is the Children Act? 1989
The Children Act is an important law for children and young people. It started on 14th October 1991. It is about how children should be brought up and cared for.
What does the act say?
It says that:
- When a court or a local authority, which you may know as the council, is making decisions about a child, their first thought must be what is best for that child
- Children should be brought up in their own family whenever possible
- A local authority must work together with parents and children
- A court must put children first when making decisions
- When children are being looked after by local authorities, they and their parents have rights
Why is the act important?
It says how you can be protected and gives you certain rights. It says that you are a person who must be treated with respect.
The Act says the local authority must help you if you will suffer without help or if you have a disability and need help.
The local authority may do this by finding you a place in an after-school or holiday club. Sometimes, to help you, they must help your family. They may send along a home helper if it is what is needed or perhaps they may offer a place in a nursery or a playgroup to your brother or sister who is too young to go to school.
The act says that if you are in danger or at risk or harm in some way then you must be protected. It says that the local authority must listen if they are told you are in danger. They must look into what is happening and if necessary, go to court and ask the court to decide what is best for you. The court can make orders saying what is to happen to you.
The court will only make an order if it thinks this will make things better for you. If it doesn't believe that, it will make no order.
The Act gives you other rights as well as those talked about earlier. These are
The Act is also about children whose parents (whether married or not) are separating or divorcing or did so in the past. The act encourages parents to agree about their future between them without going to court. But if they cannot do this, there is a range of orders the court can make that could affect you including:
You may not agree with what your parents asked for or want to put your own ideas forward. If so, the Act says the court can let you ask for one of these orders yourself. But first the court has to be sure that you understand what is involved.
Even if you live with one parent rather than the other, as a result of what the court decides, both your parents will go on having responsibility for you while you are a child.
Who can you speak to?
Your own local authority
If you are provided with accommodation by a local authority or are in care or go into care then ask your social worker to tell you about: