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Information for children and young people who are looked after

'Children looked after' is a term used to describe children and young people who are looked after by their Local Authority - often described as 'being in care'. Though these terms are very common they are used to refer to a group of children and young people. However, we would always consult with children and young people to ask them how they would want to be referred to as an individual because they are unique.

There are lots of reasons why children and young people become Looked After. Every situation is different, sometimes parents are unable to care for their children, are unwell, or there may be a need for specialist services which cannot be provided in the home.

If a child cannot remain at home living with their parents, they could be cared for by a relative/friend or foster carers or may need specialised services in a residential setting.

There are times when children and young people may only need to be ‘Looked After’ for a short period of time and then return to live their family, but sometimes the arrangement is longer term.

To help decide what the right plan is for the child/young person and their family we will carry out an assessment which will include the views of the child/young person and their parents.

What is a social worker?

Every child or young person Looked After has an allocated worker called a social worker. The social worker will work with the child/young person and their family to make sure they have the support they all need.

  • He/she will visit the child/young person regularly and provide their contact details, so they are easily contactable.
  • The social worker will listen to the child/young person's views, wishes and feelings.
  • The social worker will ensure that the child/young person's needs are being met.
  • The social worker will explain the Care and Support Plan to the child/young person and talk about what will happen in the future.
  • The social worker will also explain in a way that is suited to the child/young person, why they came into care.

Find out more about what a social worker does in the factsheet and animation below:

What is a Care and Support Plan?

Each child/young person who becomes Looked After will have a Care and Support Plan. We have a duty to draw up a plan in writing. Each plan must be written in consultation with the child/young person, parents and other important people and agencies in the child/young person's life.

The Care and Support Plan explains what we're going to do to support the child/young person's needs in relation to family time, health, education, religion, culture and hobbies. A copy will be provided for the child/young person, parents, foster carers and/or residential carers so everyone is clear what is to happen next.

The Plan is reviewed on a regular basis consulting with the child/young person, their parents and all the professionals involved in their care to ensure that we continue to support the child/young person's needs.

What is a Child Looked After (CLA) review meeting?

A review of the child/young person’s care and support plan will take place on a regular basis as set out in regulations:

  • Within 20 days of becoming looked after – initial review meeting
  • Three months following the initial review meeting
  • Every 6 months following that

There can be additional review meetings depending on the circumstances but that is not usually what happens.

The child/young person, parents, carers and other agencies who provide support to the family including the child/young person’s social worker will be invited to attend the review meeting.

The review meeting is chaired by someone who is called an Independent Reviewing Officer, IRO for short. Their job is to ensure that the Local Authority and other agencies are delivering the plan for the child/young person and meeting their needs and to ensure that the child/young person’s rights are upheld. They are independent in the sense that they will not have anything to do with the management of the case.

The review meeting will discuss each part of the child/young person’s plan (education, health and where the child/young person is living are always discussed) to check that tasks are being completed in a timely way and that the plan is still meeting their needs.

Sometimes children and young people will not want to attend the actual meeting, but they do want to have a say and they have the right to do so. They can ask an advocate to represent them, they can ask to speak to the Chair of the meeting alone, speak to their social worker or another trusted professional about what they want to tell the meeting, they could write a letter, or they could record something on Whatsapp or other social media apps.

We also have consultation forms that we ask children and young people, parents and foster carers to complete before they come to the review meeting. This is an opportunity for everyone to raise anything they are happy with or unhappy with.

Looked After Children Review Carer’s Consultation Papers

My Review 0-12 Years

Looked After Children Review Parents Consultation Papers

Consultation Paper for Looked After Young Persons Review Meeting

Children and young people can request that a review meeting take place or to speak to the Independent Reviewing Officer at any time.

Children and Young People’s Rights

All children and young people in Wales have rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. These rights are:

  • I have everything I need to give me the best start in life!
  • I am listened to and treated with respect.
  • I can take part, enjoy learning and have the best education possible.
  • My home is a safe place and I have lots of things to do close to where I live.
  • I have a healthy life in all areas including emotional health and I am kept safe from harm or abuse.
  • I don’t have to live in poverty, and we have enough money for what we need.
  • I enjoy playing and have opportunities to enjoy sport and cultural activities with my friends.

The Welsh Government have to consider these rights every time they make a decision. In Wales we have a Children’s Commissioner whose job is to hold the Government to account about the rights of children and young people.

To find out more information see the links below.

Children's rights: Information for children | GOV.WALES

Home - Children’s Commissioner for Wales (

National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) – children and young people can refer themselves for advocacy by calling the Freephone number or following the link below.

Freephone Helpline

0808 808 1001

The National Youth Advocacy Service | NYAS

What is foster care like?

Find out more about this on our Fostering page that can be accessed below.

Fostering page