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Waltham Forest Children's Rights Service

Frequently asked questions

What kind of rights do children and young people in care have?

Children and young people in care have a variety of rights, some of which are to do with being in care and some are common with any other child or young person under 18. Particular rights that come from being in care are set out in the Children Act (1975, 1989, 2992 & 2004) and the Children (leaving care) Act 2000. These laws say how a child should be looked after in care and also how they should be supported after they leave care.

Rights under these laws include:

  • the right to have a care plan or pathway plan (the plan that says how they are going to be looked after and supported)
  • the right to see their social worker a minimum of every 6 weeks while they are in care
  • the right to have a review meeting a minimum of every 6 months while they are in care (this looks at the plans for them and checks how they are being cared for)
  • the right to complain if they are not happy with the services they are getting

Children and young people in care also share many other rights with young people who are not in the 'Looked After System', such as the right to play, the right to an education, the right to be involved in their communities and the right to have a voice and be listened to.

Does involving children and young people in planning and decision making make a difference?

Children and young people’s participation in decision making has been growing over the past 15 to 20 years in all areas of their lives, but particularly within social care and there is more and more evidence to show that involving them makes for better outcomes.

Services are better able to meet the needs of children and young people and plans for individual children are more successful and more likely to be kept to by the young people involved.

Creative ideas and solutions come from young people that would never have come from adult professionals alone.  This is because the experience and perspectives of the adult professionals are so very different from those of the young people involved.

The only down side is that it takes longer in the beginning because people (younger and older) are not often used to working together in this way and young people need to be given the background information so that they can be really involved.

What do children and young people get out of participating?

From the feedback we get at children’s rights, children and young people tell us how much being able to take an active part in important decisions helps to build confidence and positive self esteem.  Being involved in designing or developing services also gives them a sense of making a wider contribution and taking responsibility for other children and young people.