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The Care Dictionary 

Explaining the confusing and tricky terms used the care system.

What is a...?

A care plan is a document created by the Local Authority, such as by your social worker, that should consider all your needs. This includes things like where you live, your family relationships, your physical and mental health, your education, and much more. Your care plan is about making sure you are safe, happy and well.  

It is really important that your views, wishes and feelings are included within this plan. Other people might be spoken to and their views gathered for the care plan. This includes people like family members, designated teachers and keyworkers.  

Your care plan should be regularly reviewed throughout the year, at Review Meetings.  Review Meetings look at making sure you are safe and well cared for and that any agreed decisions on your care plan are being progressed. They are also a place to discuss any changes that might be happening. 

Review meetings should take place four weeks after you first go into care. Following this, there will be a second Review Meeting three months later. After this, the Review Meetings take place every six months. 

You should have a copy of your care plan, and if you feel you need it, you should have help to understand it. 

Your care plan is about you, and it’s really important your views are included in it. If you feel you are not being heard in your care plan, or you would like someone to support you in the meeting, you might want to speak with an advocate.

The designated contact for care leavers at a college or university is a named member of staff that supports all the care leavers who are studying there. They will be able to help you with information about the college or university and make sure you receive your bursaries.

A designated teacher is a teacher in your school who is there to make sure you have someone you can contact during school times. They will make sure your education is as settled as can be, the designated teacher can also help with additional support such as accessing 1-1 tutoring. 

All Local Authorities must publish a ‘Local Offer’. This is a document that provides information about what you are entitled to from the Local Authority you are a care leaver with. This should cover areas such as your entitlements around housing, finances and education and wellbeing, and may also include information about other activities in the Local Authority you could have access to- for example free or discounted leisure centre passes.  

A Local Offer can be a really helpful document to look at because whilst many entitlements are the same nationally, there are some differences in your entitlements depending on the Local Authority you are a care leaver with.

Your Local Offer should be easily accessible. Often Local Offers are published online, though sometimes these will also be in a physical document or an app. You can use this website to find your Local Offer.

If you have any questions about your Local Offer, or feel confused, please call our friendly Care Advice Line on 0800 023 2033, open from 10 am-5 pm Mon-Fri.  

Around your 16th birthday, you should be assigned a Personal Advisor. You and your Personal Advisor and/or social worker should begin preparing a Pathway Plan.  

A Pathway Plan is a document that should set out the package of support that the Local Authority, and other professionals, will provide you to help you achieve your goals and become more independent. It will also set out steps you need to take. It can cover areas such as your aims for education, training and employment, where you want to live, what financial support you require and other support related to your needs.  

It is really important to make sure that any support your Local Authority has agreed to is included in your Pathway Plan, as this provides written evidence of this support.  

Your Pathway Plan should be updated at least every 6 months, or if you request an update. You should always be involved in updating this.  

Your Pathway Plan should be about you- and should reflect your wishes and goals. You should always have a copy of this plan.  

Every young person in care will have a Personal Education Plan (PEP). The PEP forms part of your care plan and is reviewed twice a year. The PEP sets out what needs to happen in your education to make sure you have the right support to achieve at school. 

While you are in care, there will be regular meetings arranged. These are to ensure you are safe and well, and that everyone involved in supporting you is doing their job to help you. These are often referred to as ‘Review Meetings’. Find out more about Review Meetings here.

The virtual school head promotes the education of all looked after children in each local authority. They will ensure that you are attending the right school and are engaging in education as best as you can. The Virtual School Head will talk to your social worker and the designated teacher in your school to make sure you have the right support in place. 

Need help or support? We are here for you.