Introduction

  • Plans about your life might be short-term, like how you’re going to spend your weekend or buying that new computer game you’ve been after for ages.
  • Medium-term plans might be something you’re working towards that’s not too far away – like settling into a new school or spending time with your family.
  • Long-term plans are the big goals for the future, such as ideas about the kind of job or career you’re aiming for.
  • Long-term plans can also relate to how you want your life to be as a whole. Most people hope to be happy and to live with people they love, and that love them.
If you need help with your rights, please go to the People and places part of our site.

Plans always have to be especially made for each person. A long-term plan of competing in the Olympics isn’t going to work for someone who hates sport!

Your feelings and views will usually be at the centre of your plans. It’s also OK for you to step back and let adults who care about you make great plans for you.

Plans can go off course for a while, which is why it’s important to keep them under review.

If there are things getting in the way of plans about your life, the adults looking after you should try and fix these.

Sometimes there are understandable reasons why plans need to change. Your health may have taken a turn for the worst. Or something may have happened in your family which has unsettled you a lot. Just being older can mean your interests and priorities have altered.

It’s OK for plans to change. So long as everyone keeps focusing on what’s best for you.

Your rights - general
  • Wherever you live, the people who look after you must protect your welfare.
  • Plans about your welfare look to the future, and take into account how your life has been so far.

Who should be the top priority in plans about you?

Whenever plans are agreed about you, your wishes and feelings must be treated seriously. You must be asked your views, and you have the right to be properly involved in making plans about you. This means you should be listened to carefully. You should be encouraged and helped to share your thoughts and feelings in a way that suits you.

  • If you are someone who feels happy speaking in a small meeting about yourself, that’s great.
  • Or you might prefer to write or draw something.
  • Some children and young people enjoy making videos on their phones.
  • The point is that it’s up to you how you get your views across.
  • And it is perfectly OK for you not to have a view about something, or to change your mind.

Making plans about your life should feel hopeful and positive, even when life is tough. Whatever is happening in your life, you must always be treated with respect and kindness. Your right to have a great childhood never goes away, and that’s what everyone should be focused on.

The exact plans that are written about you will depend on where you are living (see Your rights – extra down below).

  • Whatever plans are written, you must always be able to understand them.
  • The writing and words should be clear and easy-to-follow.
  • There must be a way for you to get something corrected if it is wrong or untrue.
  • You should be told what you can do if you want any changes to your plan. You should get help with this if you need it.

Staff and carers must respect your privacy. Written plans about your life should only be shared with people who are closely involved in your care.

Thank you for reading this first section. You’ve covered all the basics. Brilliant! If you want some extra information about your rights where you live, please see the ‘Your rights – extra’ section down below.

Your rights – extra

This section gives you information about your extra rights in different places.

Words in “quotation marks” come from laws and legal rules. Laws and legal rules must be followed by the people who look after you.

Children’s home

If you live in a children’s home, you’ll probably be no stranger to written plans!

We love written plans because they show what rights you have, and how these rights will be respected.

Below we give a description of each of the main plans children in care often have, and the important rights they give you.

  • Care Plan.
  • Education, Health and Care Plan.
  • Pathway Plan.

Care Plan
Your Care Plan is your most important plan. It is made up of lots of smaller but very important plans.

Your Care Plan is a legal document that says how people should work together to make sure you get your rights.

It should give you a good sense of security because changes to how you are being looked after can only be made after your care has been carefully looked at (unless this would be impossible).

The law says your Care Plan must describe:

  • What the long-term plan for your childhood is (you may hear people calling this your Permanence Plan). This part of your Care Plan is aimed at making sure you can have stability in your life, to help you feel loved, happy and secure. This is your right like any other child.
  • How your health needs will be looked after (you may hear people calling this your Health Plan).
  • How your education and training needs will be looked after (you may hear people calling this your Personal Education Plan).
  • How your needs linked to your feelings and behavior will be met.
  • How your needs linked to your religion, racial origin and background will be met. This includes your language and culture.
  • How your needs linked to your family, friends and other relationships will be met.
  • How your needs linked to how you feel and manage in social situations will be met.
  • How your needs linked to your skills looking after yourself will be met.
  • How all of your needs will be met where you live (your Placement Plan).
  • The name of your independent reviewing officer.
  • Your thoughts and feelings about all parts of your Care Plan and your Placement Plan, and your thoughts and feelings about any changes that may be made. (The thoughts and feelings of others – for example your parents – will be included too).

If your council is not doing what your Care Plan says, the law says it must tell your independent reviewing officer. Your independent reviewing officer has the legal power to get help for you to make sure your rights are protected. Excellent!

Education, Health and Care Plan
If you have special educational needs, your council might have agreed a plan with you and your parents. This is called your Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan for short).

The law says your EHC Plan should include certain information. This includes any health care you might need.

Once your Plan has been agreed, the council is under a legal duty to make sure the promises in the Plan about are put into practice. Brilliant!

Pathway Plan
You must have a Pathway Plan if you are at least 16 and:

  • Since you were aged 14 you have been in care for at least 13 weeks (in one go or in separate weeks that add up), OR
  • Since you were aged 14 you have spent at least 13 weeks (in one go or in separate weeks that add up) in hospital or in a place where you were locked up.

Your Pathway Plan must include:

  • The name of your Personal Adviser. This is a person who will offer you advice and help about all aspects of growing up.
  • Who will support you, and how you will be supported.
  • Where you will live when you are no longer in a children’s home.
  • Your education and training plans once you leave your children’s home.
  • How your council will help you get into employment or training.
  • The support you’ll get to help you with your family relationships and friendships.
  • The support you’ll get to help you live independently.
  • The financial help you’ll get to cover your housing and other costs like food.
  • Your health needs, and how these will be met when you no longer live at your children’s home.
  • Your council’s backup plans in case parts of this Plan don’t work out for any reason.

Reviewing your care, and how you are doing
As you probably know, there are important checks on your care and how you are doing. This is called a review. There is usually a meeting as part of this checking process. The person in charge of your review is your independent reviewing officer.

Hospital or other health place

If you are in hospital, the people looking after you must give you care that is ‘person-centred’. This means what is best for you – and what you agree to – must be given priority.

The law says the care and treatment you receive in hospital (no matter why you are there) must:

  • Be correct for you.
  • Meet your needs.
  • Be in line with your choices.

You must be given information about your care and treatment, including about their benefits and risks. You must be involved in making decisions about your care and treatment as much as possible.

If you are ever unsure about your care and treatment, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s crucial you know what is happening. No matter how big or small you think your question is – please ask.

If you are 16 or over, you have the right to agree to care and treatment and doctors and nurses should give you lots of say (unless you are very unwell or are unable to think through decisions).

If you are under 16 but have good understanding, you may also have the right to make decisions about your care and treatment.

However old you are, you must be treated with respect.

Your doctors and nurses will usually want to involve your parents and carers in decisions about your care and treatment, since they are so important to you getting well.

Immigration detention

You have the right to be in accommodation that suits your needs as a child.

When you are first locked up, you must be given written reasons for this. The words and writing used should be understandable to you, as a child or young person. Every month from then on, you must be given written reasons for your detention.

Prison

Important meetings take place to make plans for you whether you are held in a young offender institution or a secure training centre.

IF YOU ARE REMANDED
Every child who is remanded to prison automatically goes into the care of their local council. This is so you get extra protection. This includes having an independent reviewing officer to make sure you are looked after well.

If you were already in care before being remanded, your Care Plan will be changed to include a Detention Placement Plan.

If you weren’t already in care, a Detention Placement Plan will be agreed for you.

Your Detention Placement Plan must include very important information such as:

  • How your welfare will be looked after every day by the people who work in your prison.
  • Your contact with your parents and any other people who are important to you (or reasons why contact shouldn’t happen).
  • How often your social worker will visit you, and how they will stay in touch between visits.
  • If you have an independent visitor.
  • How your physical health and your mental health will be looked after in prison.
  • The dental care you will get while in prison.
  • Arrangements for your education and training.
  • Whether you have any special educational needs, and how these will be met if you do.
  • How the prison will meet your religious needs, your language needs and your cultural needs (this might be linked to being a Romany or Gypsy young person for example).
  • How the prison will support your skills in looking after yourself.
  • The name of your independent reviewing officer.
  • What will happen after you are no longer remanded.

AFTER YOU HAVE BEEN SENTENCED
Within 10 days of you being sentenced to custody, an initial planning meeting will be held. You, and your parents or carers, have the right to be involved in this important meeting.

Targets will be agreed for how your needs will be met during your time in prison, and after you leave. Everything that’s important to your safety, health and happiness should be discussed, especially these subjects:

  • Your education, training and employment.
  • Work around your offending (why it happened and what will help stop future offending).
  • Where you will live when you leave prison.
  • Meeting your health needs in prison (physical and mental health are equally important).
  • Help with money, debts and benefits.
  • Whether you need any help from social workers.
  • Making sure your parents or carers are involved in making plans for you and supporting you.
  • Working out if there are any risks to others, and how these should be dealt with.

Once everything is agreed, this will be your Sentence Plan. Your plan must be written in a way you understand (obvious, you’d think, but not everyone writes understandable plans!). You must sign it, to prove you understand and agree to it. Important: only ever sign something that you truly understand – if in doubt, ask for help.

Sentence Plan review meetings
These should be held every three months while you are in prison.

Release preparation meeting
One month before you leave prison, you should have a release preparation meeting. Then two weeks before you leave, you will have your last release preparation meeting. These are very important meetings to agree where you will live, how you will get your 25 hours education or training a week and how your health needs will be met after you leave prison.

Your safety
If there are concerns about you hurting yourself while you are in prison, a separate plan may be agreed about how to keep you safe. We cannot stress enough how important it is that you talk about your feelings and let people know when you are feeling very distressed and out of control (which is a common experience in prison). You have the right to help.

School

Whether you live in a boarding school or a residential special school, your teachers and carers will keep your care and education under regular review. You have the right to be involved in any meetings about your care and education.

If you live in a residential special school, there are important rules your school should follow. These say that:

  • You should have a Placement Plan (unless you already have a plan about your education and other needs). Your Placement Plan will say what your needs are and how your school will meet these needs. Brilliant!
  • Your Placement Plan will be checked regularly so that it is up-to-date and working well for you.
  • Whenever possible, you should know exactly what is in your Placement Plan (though it’s not a test!). You should be able to say how your school is meeting your needs.
  • You should have at least one person in your school who is there to give you special help and support. This person makes time for you.

You get help to be involved in making plans about you.

Secure children’s home

As you probably know, children and young people live in secure children’s homes through two different paths:

  1. They are suspected of committing a crime, or they have committed a crime, OR
  2. They are in care and there are serious concerns about their safety.

PATH 1 (CRIME)
The plans made about you will be slightly different according to whether you have been convicted of a crime, or remanded to custody.

YOU ARE REMANDED
Every child who is remanded to prison automatically goes into the care of their local council. This is so they get extra protection. This includes having an independent reviewing officer to make sure you are looked after well.

If you were already in care before being remanded, your Care Plan will be changed to include a Detention Placement Plan.

If you weren’t already in care, a Detention Placement Plan will be agreed for you.

Your Detention Placement Plan must include very important information such as:

  • How your welfare will be looked after every day by the people who work in your prison.
  • Your contact with your parents and any other people who are important to you (or reasons why contact shouldn’t happen).
  • How often your social worker will visit you, and how they will stay in touch between visits.
  • If you have an independent visitor.
  • How your physical health and your mental health will be looked after in prison.
  • The dental care you will get while in prison.
  • Arrangements for your education and training.
  • Whether you have any special educational needs, and how these will be met if you do.
  • How the prison will meet your religious needs, your language needs and your cultural needs (this might be linked to being a Romany or Gypsy young person for example).
  • How the prison will support your skills in looking after yourself.
  • The name of your independent reviewing officer.
  • What will happen after you are no longer remanded.

AFTER YOU HAVE BEEN SENTENCED
Within 10 days of you being sentenced to custody, an initial planning meeting will be held. You, and your parents or carers, have the right to be involved in this important meeting.

Targets will be agreed for how your needs will be met during your time in prison, and after you leave. Everything that’s important to your safety, health and happiness should be discussed, especially these subjects:

  • Your education, training and employment.
  • Work around your offending (why it happened and what will help stop future offending).
  • Where you will live when you leave prison.
  • Meeting your health needs in prison (physical and mental health are equally important).
  • Help with money, debts and benefits.
  • Whether you need any help from social workers.
  • Making sure your parents or carers are involved in making plans for you and supporting you.
  • Working out if there are any risks to others, and how these should be dealt with.

Once everything is agreed, this will be your Sentence Plan. Your plan must be written in a way you understand (obvious, you’d think, but not everyone writes understandable plans!). You must sign it, to prove you understand and agree to it. Important: only ever sign something that you truly understand – if in doubt, ask for help.

Sentence plan review meetings
These should be held every three months while you are in prison.

Release preparation meeting
One month before you leave prison, you should have a release preparation meeting. Then two weeks before you leave, you will have your last release preparation meeting. These are very important meetings to agree where you will live, how you will get your 25 hours education or training a week and how your health needs will be met after you leave prison.

Your safety
If there are concerns about you hurting yourself while you are in prison, a separate plan may be agreed about how to keep you safe. We cannot stress enough how important it is that you talk about your feelings and let people know when you are feeling very distressed and out of control (which is a common experience in prison). You have the right to get the help you need.

PATH 2 (CONCERNS ABOUT YOUR SAFETY)
If you are living in a secure children’s home because of concerns about your safety, you must be in care.

Being in care you’ll probably be no stranger to written plans!

We love written plans because they show what rights you have, and how these rights will be respected.

Below we give a description of each of the main plans children in care often have, and the important rights they give you.

  • Care Plan.
  • Education, Health and Care Plan.
  • Pathway Plan.

Secure Accommodation Review
Before we get onto your plans, just a word about your Secure Accommodation Review. When you are living in a secure children’s home, your council must ask three people to check whether you still need to be locked up. It is against the law for you to be in secure accommodation when you are no longer at serious risk.

One of these three people reviewing whether you need to stay in a secure children’s home must be completely separate from your council. The three people must carry out their first review within one month of you entering secure accommodation, and then every three months after that. They must do their best to find out and take into account your wishes and feelings, as well as the wishes and feelings of your parents and carers. 

Care Plan
Your Care Plan is your most important plan. It is made up of lots of smaller but very important plans.

Your Care Plan is a legal document that says how people should work together to make sure you get your rights.

It should give you a good sense of security because changes to how you are being looked after can only be made after your care has been carefully looked at (unless this would be impossible).

The law says your Care Plan must say:

  • What the long-term plan for your childhood is (you may hear people calling this your ‘permanence plan’). This part of your Care Plan is aimed at making sure you can have stability in your life, to help you feel loved, happy and secure. This is your right like any other child.
  • How your health needs will be looked after (you may hear people calling this your Health Plan).
  • How your education and training needs will be looked after (you may hear people calling this your Personal Education Plan).
  • How your needs linked to your feelings and behaviour will be met.
  • How your needs linked to your religion, racial origin and background will be met. This includes your language and culture.
  • How your needs linked to your family, friends and other relationships will be met.
  • How your needs linked to how you feel and manage in social situations will be met.
  • How your needs linked to your skills looking after yourself will be met.
  • How all of your needs will be met where you live (your Placement Plan).
  • The name of your independent reviewing officer.
  • Your thoughts and feelings about all parts of your Care Plan and your Placement Plan, and your thoughts and feelings about any changes that may be made. (The thoughts and feelings of others, for example your parents, will also be included).

If your council is not doing what your Care Plan says, the law says it must tell your independent reviewing officer. Your independent reviewing officer has the legal power to get help for you to make sure your rights are protected. Excellent!

Education, Health and Care Plan
If you have special educational needs, your council might have agreed a plan with you and your parents. This is called your Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan for short). Once your Plan has been agreed, the council is under a legal duty to make sure the promises in the Plan about are put into practice. Brilliant!

Pathway Plan
You must have a Pathway Plan if you are at least 16 and:

  • Since you were aged 14 you have been in care for at least 13 weeks (in one go or in separate weeks that add up), OR
  • Since you were aged 14 you have spent at least 13 weeks (in one go or in separate weeks that add up) in hospital or in a place where you were locked up.

Your Pathway Plan must include:

  • The name of your Personal Adviser. This is a person who will offer you advice and help about all aspects of growing up.
  • Who will support you, and how you will be supported.
  • Where you will live when you are no longer in a children’s home.
  • Your education and training plans once you leave your children’s home.
  • How your council will help you get into employment or training.
  • The support you’ll get to help you with your family relationships and friendships.
  • The support you’ll get to help you live independently.
  • The financial help you’ll get to cover your housing and other costs like food.
  • Your health needs, and how these will be met when you no longer live at your children’s home.
  • Your council’s backup plans in case parts of this Plan don’t work out for any reason.

Reviewing your care, and how you are doing
As you probably know, there are important checks on your care and how you are doing. This is called a review. There is usually a meeting as part of this checking process. Your independent reviewing officer is in charge of your review.