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Explaining official words

Sometimes social workers, foster carers and teachers could use some official words that you don’t understand.

Here’s a list of some you might have come across.


Sometimes called Section 20. This is another word for being looked after by Children’s Social Care.

It means that your parents and children’s social care share responsibility for making decisions about how you are cared for.


An advocate is an independent person who can help you to have your say.

For example, if you feel that your views aren’t being listened to or if you want to make a complaint they can help you have your say.


Children’s Social Care will gather information about you and your family situation and use it to work out who should care for you.

Other professionals, such as teachers, may also add information.

You are entitled to tell your social worker if you have any views or wishes you feel should be included.

Foster carers also get assessed to make sure they are safe to look after other people’s children.

Care order

This is a legal order made by the court.

This gives Children’s Social Care responsibility to look after you.  You will remain in care until you are 18 years old.

Care leaver

A care leaver is an adult who has spent time living in care away from their family. This could be with a foster family or in a residential or other housing arrangement agreed by their social worker. Young people usually leave care when they are 18 years old.

At this point you will have a personal advisor from the Leaving Care service, not a social worker.

Care plan

This is a really important document because it says what your plan is and what is going to happen.

You should have this explained to you and have a copy if you want one.

Chairperson or chair

This is the person that runs a meeting to make sure that:

  • what is needed to be talked about is done in a respectful way
  • everyone gets their turn to speak

Children’s guardian

In most court proceedings relating to children the court appoints a children’s guardian.

The children’s guardian will appoint a solicitor who will represent you in court.

Child Looked After Reviews

These are sometimes called CLA Reviews. Every young person who is looked after will have a review meeting.

A review is a chance for you to be part of the discussion about how you are looked after now and in the future. This will be with your social worker, family and other professionals.

You will be invited to your reviews. It’s all about you and all the important things in your life so it’s important that you have your say. The meeting will be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer.

Child protection

Keeping children and young people safe.

Child protection conference

This is an important meeting when parents and professionals come together if they are worried about a child’s safety.

At the meeting a plan will be made about how to keep the child safe.

Children’s rights

You have rights. Every child and young person under the age of 18 years has rights no matter who you are, where you live, or what your situation.

It’s important for you to know what your rights are so you know when you are not being treated properly.


Children’s Social Care has a legal duty to have a procedure to deal with complaints.

If you are unhappy with how you have been treated by Social Care or you think they have not done what they should have, you can complain. This will then be investigated.

You should have been given a leaflet about making a complaint. If you haven’t, please ask the Child Participation Development Officer or your social worker for one.

Complaints officer

The person who will contact you if you make a complaint to Children’s Social Care.


This is the word used to describe when and how you see your family and friends.

Corporate parents

If you are looked after or you are a care leaver, Bracknell Forest Council is your corporate parent.

As a corporate parent, the council is responsible for making sure that all your needs are met.

Duty Officer

This is a social worker who is available to speak to when your social worker is out of the office or on holiday.

Emergency Duty Service (EDS)

These are social workers who are available outside of office hours for emergency situations.

Family worker

Someone from Children’s Services who is not a social worker who comes into a person’s home to help them. They work with social workers.

Foster carers

This is when you are looked after within a family situation by foster carers.

In care

This is when you are cared for by the council because of a care order.

Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

This is the person who runs your review meetings. Their job is to organise meetings, make sure your views are listened to and see how plans for you are going.

They will also make sure everyone does what they say they are going to do.

They are independent which means that they can challenge the council if they think they are not doing their best for you.

Independent Visitor

An Independent Visitor is someone who is not part of Children’s Social Care. They are usually a volunteer, someone who can visit you regularly and offer you help and support.

You can ask for an Independent Visitor at anytime if you don’t have much contact with your family.

Informal Advocate

This is someone you already know and trust like a teacher, youth worker or friend who can go to meetings with you and help you have your say.

Link worker or key worker

This is the name used for staff who work in residential homes that have special responsibility for looking after children.

Looked after

This is the general term for anyone who is in care or accommodated.


This is having a say and being involved in decisions made about your life.

It’s also about getting involved and having your say about what the council is doing well and what can be improved for all children in care.

You can take part by being involved in things like SiLSiP or one off consultations, projects or activities.

Pathway plan

This is the plan for you leaving care, how you will be prepared for this and how you will be supported.

It also includes what support you can expect after you have left care.


This is the long-term plan for you to make sure you have a secure and loving place to live, where you feel you belong and that’s right for you.

Personal advisor

You will be given a personal advisor to support you when you leave care.

Personal Education Plan (PEP)

This is a plan of your education while you are looked after by Children’s Social Care, who will support you.

It is part of your care plan.


This is another word for where you are living, whether it’s with foster carers, a residential placement or living with members of your family.

Placement Plan

This is a written plan that includes all the details about practical arrangements for where you will be living.


This is the promises that Bracknell Forest Council have made to you about how you will be treated.

If the council is not keeping their promises you can challenge them. You need to tell us.

Social worker

Someone who helps and supports families who need extra help.

Each young person will have a named social worker who will be responsible for their care.

Say it Loud Say it Proud (SiLSiP)

Say it Loud Say it Proud is the name of the Bracknell Forest Children in Care Council.

Virtual school

The virtual school supports looked after children with their education.