The person in charge of your children’s home must make sure there are “suitable facilities” in which you can spend time with your parents and family members. This means there should be somewhere nice you can spend time with your parents and other family members.
The person in charge of your home must make sure you can have telephone calls and send messages (including email) to parents and family members “at all reasonable times”. What’s reasonable will depend on the situation, of course. You’ll have a good idea about what’s fair. Telephone calls and other messages can be stopped or restricted to protect your welfare.
If you are disabled, the person in charge of your home must make sure you have “aids and equipment” to stay in touch with your parents and family members. This means the person in charge of your home must take extra action to make sure you get your family rights.
Your local council must protect your welfare. Your welfare includes you being listened to, having your needs met and protecting you from harm.
If a judge decided that you need to be in care, your council must allow you “reasonable contact” with your parents. But this duty doesn’t have to be followed if contact would be unsafe or not the best thing for you. Stopping you having contact with your parents would be a serious decision that only a judge could decide – though your council can do this in an emergency.
Finally, if you are a child in care* remember that your council must do its best to find out and take into account your wishes and feelings before making any decisions about where you live, which family members you see or anything else that is important to you. This duty applies to your social worker and anyone else in the council making decisions that affect you.
*As you may know, there are three different legal reasons why a child or young person lives in a secure children’s home:
- They are in care and a court has agreed with their local council that they need to spend time in a secure children’s home to keep safe, OR
- They have been accused of committing a crime, and a court has sent them to custody while lawyers get their case ready for the main hearing (this is called ‘remand’), OR
- They have been found guilty of committing a crime, and a court has said they must spend time in custody.
Children who are remanded to custody automatically become a child in care. This means your council has duties to do its best to listen to you and take into account your wishes and feelings, including about your family.