What does it mean? Advice and information for children in care and care leavers

You may have heard words at meetings, or seen words in your paperwork, and you don’t know what they mean. Here’s a list of some you might have come across, with explanations.





This means that you are looked after away from home – but that your parents have agreed to it. You may also hear people talking about ‘section 20′. This is the section of the Children Act that describes the duties of the local authority (Devon County Council) in accommodating children and young people in need who are away from home.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can cause a lack of concentration or focus, mood swings and unpredictable behaviour. Sometimes it can be controlled by changing your diet or by taking medication.


This is a legal process where a child has new parents in the eyes of the law. An adoption plan means that Devon County Council is looking for new parents to take care of a child. The new parents have to go through lots of tests and interviews and the court decides whether they are suitable. If the adoption is agreed the new parents will make all the decisions for their new son or daughter. You can have a look at our special website for more information here:


This is somebody whose job it is to make sure you’re part of decisions being made for you. They make sure you have a say about what is going on for you. An advocate can help you with meetings, make a complaint for you or just sort out something out that’s important to you. They don’t have their own opinions and won’t give you advice; they’ll just help you to say what you feel and think.

Or you can download the ‘MoMo’ App from the app store, google play store or your desktop. This is an app that you can use to communicate with us. Share your thoughts, make a complaint or to try and change something you are not happy with (see MoMo).

Alcohol / Alcoholic

Alcoholic drinks can change the way people behave, have physical side effects and increase your vulnerability. In the UK it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy alcohol. An alcoholic is someone who has become addicted to drinking alcohol. The term ‘drinking problem’ means the same as alcoholic.
https://www.drinkaware.co.uk is a website with lots of help and information if you’re worried about your own or someone else’s drinking.


Stress can come and go, but anxiety is something that can stick around whether or not there seems to be an obvious reason. Sometimes it can seem to come out of the blue.

Anxiety can make a person imagine that things are worse than are and they often have physical symptoms like “jelly legs”, dry mouth, dizziness, a fast heart-beat, or feeling sick.

People tend to avoid situations that make them anxious, but other people manage it by doing yoga or exercise, reading, listening to music or spending time with friends or family.


This is where professionals (like a Social Worker or Educational Psychologist) will meet with you and find out about your needs, your strengths, any problems you are having and what can be done to help you and your family. There are lots of different types of assessment.

Aspergers Syndrome

This is a disability and a form of autism. People with Asperger’s Syndrome can often find it more difficult to communicate and interact with other people. Different people are affected differently and you might not be able to tell if somebody has Asperger’s Syndrome.


ASYE (Assessed and Supported Year in Employment)

This is a name given to the first year after a newly qualified social worker begins working with children and families. During this year they get extra help and support and work with less children and families.

Asylum Seeker

This is somebody who has left their own country because they think it’s too dangerous for them to stay there. They may be allowed to stay in this country or they may have to return to their home country. Sometimes children arrive without their parents and become looked after by Devon County Council.   These young people are known as ‘Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children’. Find out more here.

Look here for international updates on refugees and asylum seekers.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

People who are ‘on the autistic spectrum’ have a lifelong disability. Autism varies from person to person but it usually affects how a person relates to other people and how they make sense of the world.




Best Interest

This means doing what is best for you to keep you safe, happy and healthy. Your views are important but sometimes you might disagree with your social worker about what is in your best interest. However, they should always explain to you the reasons why they disagree with you.  Your social worker should always be working towards your best interests, and they are very important to the court when they are making decisions about you.

Bipolar Disorder

This used to be called manic depression and is a condition where a person’s mood goes from feeling very low to very high. Many people feel ‘up and down’ but people with Bipolar Disorder suffer extreme changes in mood which can last for several weeks, days or hours and they may feel out of sorts often. Click here to access help, information and support and talk to your PA if you think you have mental health problems. You can visit here for a list of local services.


A budget is a sum of money that is controlled by a person, or a group of people and is set aside to spend on particular things. Devon County Council has lots of different budgets and all the money comes from tax payers so it’s important that is spent carefully and the Council knows what has been spent.


CAFCASS (Child and Family Court Advisory Support Service)

CAFCASS social workers are called ‘Family Court Advisers’. Their job is to speak for children in the family courts. They give advice to the court, work to keep children safe, look after their wellbeing and provide information, support and advice to families.

The Children’s Guardian works for CAFCASS. https://www.cafcass.gov.uk

Care leaver

This is a young person who is about to leave care, or an adult who has left care. Young people usually leave care between the ages of 16 and 18 when they become an adult. Devon County Council has a duty to keep in touch with all care leavers up to the age of 21 and to provide them with a local offer of care and support until they are 25 if they want.

Care Order

A care order will be given out when a judge is convinced that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm if he or she does not become looked after.

Care Plan

This is a document that your social worker writes with you that tells all the people involved what you need and the way that other workers should be helping you. You should have a copy of your care plan and read it; it will help you know what’s being put in place for you.


CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. They offer assessment and treatment when children and young people have emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties. Children and young people and their families can be referred to CAMHS if they are finding it hard to cope with family life, school or life in general. If these difficulties are too much for family, friends or your GP to help you with, CAMHS may be able to support you. Types of problems CAMHS can help with include violent or angry behaviour, depression, eating difficulties, low self-esteem, anxiety, obsessions or compulsions, sleep problems, self-harming and the effects of abuse or traumatic events. CAMHS can also support young people who might be showing the signs of serious mental health problems such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.



CEOP works with child protection partners across the UK and overseas to protect children from harm online and offline.They pursue those who sexually exploit and abuse children, prevent people becoming involved in child sexual exploitation, protect children from becoming victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, and prepare interventions to reduce the impact of child sexual exploitation and abuse through safeguarding and child protection work


You might hear things like ‘who chaired that meeting?’ or ‘who was the chair?’ – the chair is the adult who is running the meeting, keeping it organised and is responsible for making sure that everyone gets a say. In your Child in Care Review or Child Protection Conference the chair will be the Independent Safeguarding & Reviewing Officer (ISRO or IRO).

Chances Academy

Based at the Junction (youth hub) in Newton Abbot, Chances offers support to young people who need to take time out from mainstream education or who find being in school difficult

Child Protection Conference

When social workers are concerned that a child or young person may be at risk of significant harm, they hold a meeting with the family and the workers who are involved. They discuss how they together they can changes to improve life for the child or young person and at the end of the Child Protection Conference there will be discussion to decide if there is a need for a Child Protection plan. If a young person is on a child protection plan.  If there is, social workers will make regular checks to see that things are getting better for the child.

Children Act (1989)

The Children Act 1989 is the most important law about children who are looked after by local authorities in England and Wales. It describes in a lot of detail what local authorities must do when they plan and review the care of young people they look after.

Children in Care Council – Stand Up! Speak Up!

This is a group of children who meet regularly and discuss the issues that they feel are affecting children in care in Devon. They are often asked what they think about the way Devon County Council is working.

Children in Need

These are children who are getting help and support from a social worker or other services but don’t need child protection. You may also hear the term ‘section 17’. This is the part of the Children Act which deals with children who require help but don’t need care proceedings.

Children’s Guardian

This is a person from the court who works to make sure that your views and best interests are put forward to the judge when there is a court case and you are involved. They used to be called Guardians or Guardian Ad Litems.

CSE  Child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology online or via social media.


Commissioning means finding out where there is a need for a service and paying someone to meet that need. Devon has a ‘commissioning team’ which is responsible for finding groups of people called ‘providers’ – these providers then provide a service that Devon needs. Space youth service is an example of a commissioned service.

Core Group

Once it has been decided that a child protection plan is required, it is the responsibility of the core group to make sure that what is said in the plan happens. The child protection conference will decide who is part of the core group. The core group includes the lead social worker, who will usually chair the group, the child (where appropriate), family members and professionals or carers who will have direct contact with the child and their family.

Customer Relations – Complaints

Every organisation that works with children has to have a complaints service which needs to be easy to use. If you want to make a complaint about something that is happening to you, or that has happened to you in the past,go to http://mindofmyown.org.uk/and click on‘I’d like to make a complaint’. If you are unsure about how to go about making a complaint and would like some help,go to www.nyas.net and click on ‘ask for an advocate’. All complaints are taken seriously.

You can also contact the Customer Relations Team to say when something has worked for you and to pay a compliment.


‘Only people who need to know, should know’. Information about you and your life is confidential and shouldn’t be known by everyone. You might have confidential workers such as advocates or therapists who don’t tell anyone what you have said. Most of these workers will agree not to tell anyone what you have said UNLESS a crime has been committed, or you say something which makes them think that you or another person is at risk of significant harm.

Careers South West (CSW)

Careers South West provides advice, guidance and practical help for young people aged 13-19 across Cornwall, Plymouth, Torbay, Devon and Somerset.Advisers help young people find up-to-date information about careers, jobs, education courses, volunteering, training opportunities and other personal support so that they see all the options open to them. They do not tell you what to do and help you choose what is best for you.


This is when people are asked their opinion formally.Stand Up! Speak Up!isthe main ‘consultation group’ for young people in Devon who are in care. They are asked what they think about a whole load of things. The Youth Service, Youth Parliament members and the Children’s Alliance also regularly consult with children and young people. You have a right to be consulted on any decision that affects your life or services you use.


Contact is a word used to describe spending time with people you are related to or know very well. It’s a very important thing for most looked after children. Most people want to see their mums, dads, brothers and sisters whenever they can, and it is up to your social worker to arrange how often you have contact and who you have contact with. There may be some people that you are not allowed contact with, your social worker should explain why. Contact can be supervised, which means that a social worker may go with you, or that the contact takes place in a centre where there are staff around. Or contact may be unsupervised, which means that you will be dropped off and picked up at a set time. You can ask your social worker for more contact if you miss people, but sometimes your social worker may decide this is not in your best interests.

Contingency Plan

You may hear this phrase at a meeting – and it means the back-up plan. It’s something that will happen if the main plan doesn’t quite work.

Corporate Parents

You may have heard your social worker say ‘we are your corporate parents’. When you become looked after, everyone who works for Devon County Council, from the top to the bottom, becomes your ‘corporate parent’ and they are expected to look after you and to do things to keep you safe and happy.

Corporate Parenting Forum

The Corporate Parenting Forum is made up of councillors, senior managers and Stand Up Speak Up members. The forum is responsible for the two main plans about looked after children (the Corporate Parenting Strategy and the Looked After Children’s Strategy). They make sure that the services provided by Devon County Council are of high quality and meet the needs of looked after children and young people.


Every four years people who live in Devon vote for who they would like to run things in the county. The people who are voted in are called the Councillors and it’s their job to run the Council, make decisions about most things in Devon and make sure the different managers are doing their jobs properly.

Children’s Services

Lots of people say Social Services when they mean Children’s Services. Children’s Services cover things like child protection, children in care, fostering and adoption and children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).




Designated Teacher

This is someone at school who has the job of making sure that looked after children in the school are doing okay, that they aren’t being bullied and that they are getting on well with work. If you are looked after and you’re not sure who the designated teacher is at your school then you could ask your form tutor or social worker.

Developmental Delay

This is when a child or young person isn’t developing skills at the same rate as most children of that age. A developmental delay could be about one particular skill such as talking or writing, or it could be a Global Developmental Delay which means that all skills are behind the average.

Devon Young People’s Accommodation Service (DYPAS)

DYPAS provide foster care for young people aged 16+. Carers provide a safe, healthy and encouraging home where young people can develop independent living skills so they can work towards ‘going it alone’ as young adults.

DBS – Disclosure and Barring Service

You may have heard the term DBS or DBS check. It stands for Disclosure and Barring Service and it is a check that all adults who are working with children and vulnerable adults have to have. It makes sure that those people who are disqualified from working with children in the past are not allowed to work with them again.

DfE – The Department for Education

The DfE is the branch of the government in London that deals with education. It publishes all sorts of advice and education laws for local authorities and schools. You can visit their website by clicking here:



Disabilities can be physical or mental impairments that have a big and long lasting impact on a person’s ability to do normal daily activities.

Down’s Syndrome

People with Down’s Syndrome often have a learning disability and may require extra care. It occurs in about one in every 1000 people. You can find out more about Down’s Syndrome by visiting:


Drugs / Drug addiction

There are many different types of drugs. Some are legal, some are illegal and many of them are very dangerous. A drug may change the way you think or feel and getting off drugs once you have started can be very hard. People who can’t stop taking drugs are said to be ‘addicted’ or ‘addicts’. You can find out more about drugs here;



This affects a person’s ability to read, write and spell. Dyslexia is considered to be a learning difficulty but is not related to how clever a person is. Dyslexia doesn’t have one symptom but if you have difficulty with writing, spelling or reading – or get your b’s mixed up with your d’s, then you may be dyslexic and you should talk to someone about this, either your carer, key-worker or a teacher at your school. There is plenty of help available for people who are dyslexic.


Dyspraxia is a condition that affects young people and adults and their ability to move and coordinate themselves. A person with dyspraxia may have poor coordination and balance, difficulty remembering and following instructions and can sometimes be marked as ‘clumsy’. If you think that you are Dyspraxic you should talk to someone your carer, doctor, key-worker or a teacher at your school about this and see what help might be available.




Eating Disorder

An eating disorder is a problem that occurs in anyone of any age from any background.There are many different types of eating disorder but they involve controlling how much or how little you eat. If you think you might have an eating disorder or you know someone who could have, you might want to call the B-eat youthline 0845 634 7650 or email fyp@b-eat.co.uk. The Beat Youthline is open to anyone under 25. If you ‘call back’ to 07786 201820they will get back to you within 24 hours (it will come up as ‘unknown’).Parents, teachers or any concerned adults should call the adult helpline. You could also visit this website www.b-eat.co.uk

Early Help

Early Help is about making sure that children living in Devon are safe, healthy, happy and well educated and ensuring help is provided as soon as it is needed. Early Help Coordinators work across Devon to ensure that those children and families needing help are receiving it, and from the right professionals. If you are accessing Early Help services you should have a TAF (Team Around the Family) plan in place.

Education Health &Care Plan (EHCP)

The law changed in 2014 about how children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities up to the age of 25 are assessed and get support and the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) was introduced.

An EHCP will look at all the needs a child or young person has across education, health and care. Professionals from each area, along with parents and carers, will look at the outcomes you want to achieve, what support you need to achieve them and how that support will be paid for.

If you think you might need support speak to your carer or a teacher so that you can talk about what you need in something called, ‘My Plan’. Once it has been agreed it will be monitored to make sure progress is being made. If progress isn’t being made an EHCP (Education Health and Care Plan) assessment will be done.


This stands for the Emergency Duty Team. Most social workers work between 9am and 5pm but there is a small group of social workers who are on call in case things happen outside these times. If there is a problem late at night, you might need to contact the Emergency Duty Team on 0345 600 0388

Educational Psychologist

Often called Ed Psych or EP, these are qualified psychologists who give advice to schools and head teachers on how to improve a young person’s achievement whilst they are in school.

Emergency Protection Order

An Emergency Protection Order is granted by the court when social workers are worried about an immediate and significant risk of harm that a child needs protecting from. An Emergency Protection Order which will last for 8 days at the most. The local authority can ask to continue this for another 7 days after that if they think it’s important for your protection. In that time your social worker will work with you and your family to decide whether it’s safe for you to return home or whether there is a need Care Order.

If this happened to you then you probably became looked after quite suddenly and might feel confused and worried. Your social worker should listen to you and answer your questions. Your social worker might have found somewhere for you to live just for a short time, while they find a place where you can live safely for longer.



Family Group Conference

Sometimes social workers organise a meeting to bring a whole family together to see if they can help solve a problem together. This is called a family Group Conference and can involve mums, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, even grandparents and neighbours. The family group conference can happen more than once.

Family Practitioner

This is someone from who works directly with families at home to help them with parenting skills, budgeting and all aspects of caring for a family well.

Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) or female genital cutting (FGC) is where some of a girl’s private parts are cut away. It is extremely painful and harmful to the emotional wellbeing of the girl. It is against the law in this country. If you are worried about what might happen to you or if it has happened to you talk to a teacher at school, a support worker or another trusted professional.

Here is what the NHS says about FGM

Getting help and support
All women and girls have the right to control what happens to their bodies and the right to say no to FGM.
Help is available if you’ve had FGM or you’re worried that you or someone you know is at risk.
If someone is in immediate danger, contact the police immediately by dialling 999.
If you’re concerned that someone may be at risk, contact the NSPCC helpline on 0800 028 3550 or fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk.
If you’re under pressure to have FGM performed on your daughter, ask your GP, health visitor or other healthcare professional for help, or contact the NSPCC helpline.
If you’ve had FGM, you can get help from a specialist NHS gynaecologist or FGM service – ask your GP, midwife or any other healthcare professional about services in your area.


Fostering is where a trained carer is paid and supported to look after a child or children, in their own home, who cannot live with their birth family.

Fostering Agency

A fostering agency is a business that sometimes provides Devon County Council with foster carers and foster placements.

Fostering Allowance

This is the money that a foster carer is paid for looking after a child or young person.

Foster Carers

Foster carers are members of the public who choose to look after children who are not their own. They are trained professionals and get paid to do this. Foster carers come from all different backgrounds and are different ages with different levels of experience. Social workers try to match children with a carer who they think they’d get along with.

Fostering Social Worker

This is a social worker for the foster carer. It is their job to supervise the foster carers and sort out any problems that might happen in the foster placement.

Foster placement (Long Term)

This is when a foster placement has been identified for you and is where it is planned for you to stay until you are eighteen years old, or whenever you are ready to move out.

Foster placement (Short Term)

It may be that you are coming into care then returning home, or that you are waiting for a long-term carer to be found for you, or maybe that you’re going to be adopted. A short-term foster carer may look after you for a few weeks or months but the plan will always be for you to move somewhere else, either to a long-term carer, into your own place or back home.

Foster placement (Emergency)

Sometimes emergencies happen and social workers need to have places they can take children at short notice. An emergency placement will probably only last a few days while people try and solve whatever problems the emergency has thrown up.

Further Education

Further education is any education that takes place past the age of 16 but before University.  It can be academic (often in school or college) or vocational (in a workplace).




The Government is a set of people who can make and change the laws. Every area in Britain sends an MP (Member of Parliament) to London to sit in the House of Commons. It’s here that all laws are made. The Government is run by the Prime Minister and his top-ranking MPs called the cabinet.


Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation. Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know – for example a family member, friend or professional. Groomers may be male or female. They could be any age. Many children and young people don’t understand that they have been groomed, or that what has happened is abuse. If you are worried this is happening to you talk to your carer, a teacher, your support worker or call ChildLine on 0800 1111. For more information look on the NSPCC website www.nspcc.org.uk/

Guardian Ad Litem

Please see Children’s Guardian.




Health Assessment / Health Check

Health Assessments and checks done on young people by the named looked after children’s nurse or doctor. These checks are more frequent when you’re young than when you’re a teenager but are supposed to happen at least once a year and every child should have a Health Plan. Carers should make sure that you see a dentist regularly and have sight and hearing tests as well as making sure you take your medication.If you are 16 years or over you can say if you want to have medical examinations and treatment.Where appropriate, young people under 16 may also have a say. It is for the doctor to decide when a young person is capable of giving informed consent after consultation with those that best know them.

Health Professionals

These are doctors, nurses, consultants, therapists, psychologists and other qualified staff who provide medical care or information. Their job it is to make sure that children and young people are well.

Higher Education

This is education for people over 18 which includes a degree course, a Master’s degree and a doctorate (PhD).

Human Rights / Human Rights Act

Every person on the planet is entitled to some basic rights, and Human Rights are laid down in a document called the ‘Human Rights Act’. This became law here in 1998 and now the British Government and British lawyers have to show that the things they do are supported by the Human Rights Act.




Independence / Independent Living

This is when you are working towards living on your own without adults around to look after you. You can start training for independence when you’re a teenager by learning useful skills like cooking and budgeting. Towards the end of being in care, you might go off to university or go into supported lodgings. These are both steps towards independence.

IRO/ISRO – Independent Safeguarding and Reviewing Officer

This is the person who managers your care, child protection or pathway plan and chairs your reviews. It’s the person who checks to see your social worker is doing what he/she said they were going to do, who can ask for changes to be made to your plan and who will try to make sure that you know what is happening. If you do not know who your IRO is, you should ask your keyworker, foster carer or social worker.

IVs – Independent Visitors

Independent visitors are volunteers who form friendships with children in care who may not have much contact with their family. The independent visitor and the young person may go out and do things together. However, the independent visitor doesn’t normally get involved with anything to do with being in care. The hope is that every child and their visitor will go on to be friends after the child turns 18 and may be friends for life. You can request an Independent Visitor from your Social Worker or IRO.




Jobcentre Plus

Jobcentre plus is part of the Department for Work and Pensions. It can help you sort out what sort of job you would like to do and can help you with training and benefits. You can find out more by visiting;





Key Stage

You might hear this phrase in school – and you might see things like KS2 and KS3 written on documents. A key stage is a set of year groups that you are in at a particular age at school. There are 4 key stages; Key Stage 1 is for 5-7 year olds and Key Stage 4 is for 14-16 year olds. You might hear about Key Stage 5 too, but this is more often referred to as 6th form.


Every child or young person who lives in a residential unit will have a keyworker and it’s the keyworker’s job to make sure that the care plan is being followed and that the young person is happy and settled where they’re living.

Kinship Care

This means you’re being looked after by a member of your family, not your parents, and you’re supported by the County Council. This could be your grandparents, older brothers and sisters or aunts and uncles.



Lead Member for Children in Care

This is the Councillor who has special responsibility for Children in Care in Devon. This person chairs the Corporate Parenting Board and Forum.  Currently the Lead Member is Cllr James McInnes.

Learning Disability

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life. People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complex information and interact with other people.

The level of support someone needs depends on individual factors, including the severity of their learning disability. For example, someone with a mild learning disability may only need support with things like getting a job. However, someone with a severe or profound learning disability may need full-time care and support with every aspect of their life – they may also have physical disabilities.

People with certain specific conditions can have a learning disability too. For example, people with Down’s syndrome and some people with autism have a learning disability. Learning disability is often confused with dyslexia and mental health problems. Dyslexia is better described as a “learning difficulty” because, unlike learning disability, it does not affect intellect. Mental health problems can affect anyone at any time and may be overcome with treatment, which is not true of learning disability. It’s important to remember that with the right support, most people with a learning disability can lead independent lives.

Local Authority

The local authority is the name given to Devon County Council. It can mean the whole council or just one part of it.

Looked After Children

‘Looked after Child’ is the name given to all children that the local authority has some sort of responsibility for. It includes all children that are on a care order and those who are accommodated. It sometimes includes children who are living at home and who the local authority has responsibility for.

LAC/CIC Review

This is another name for your Children in Care Review, it stands for ‘Looked After Child’, generally these meetings are just shortened to ‘review’. It’s a meeting which includes the young person and is chaired by the Independent Safeguarding and Reviewing Officer and it’s where the care plan is reviewed to make sure that all needs of the young person are being met and that they are happy and settled.


The L and G stand for lesbian and gay which means emotionally and/or physically attracted to people of your own gender. B is for bisexual which means being able to experience emotional and/or physical attraction both to people of the same gender and to people of the other gender. T stands for Trans which means people who are transgendered (someone whose physical body (one’s sex) contradicts what they know their natural or true gender to be)/ transsexual (a transgendered person who is living full-time in their true gender, with or without hormonal or surgical intervention) or transvestite / cross-dressing (someone who do not identify as transgendered but wants to live part of their life as a person of the other gender). The Q and I are for those who are questioning or whose identity is fluid. So LGBTQI is about including and welcoming all who are LGB, Trans or questioning their identity. Here’s a list of local support groups.

LGO – Local Government Ombudsman

If someone has taken a complaint as far as they can with the local authority they can go to the Local Government Ombudsman. A local government ombudsman official will deal with complaints where you think that the local authority has not stuck to its own rules and guidelines. You can only go to the LGO by going through the complaints service first. If you have received a final response to your complaint and are still not happy, then go to the LGO.

Life story Work

If you have a plan for adoption you must have a Life Story Book which explains your life in words, pictures and photos. It should be made with your help and tell you what you want to know. as you’re growing up. It is meant to be an opportunity to explore emotions through play, conversation and counseling. It should include as full a record as possible of your life, bring past and future together so you can make sense of it all. You can then continue your Life Story on the basis of it. It is something you can come back to when you need to deal with old feelings and make sense of and accept the past, increase your sense of self and self-worth and be a way to about painful issues.

Later Life Letters

Later Life Letters are written by your social worker and the adopters’ social worker. You are the focus of the letter and it must be remembered that you have a need to know why you were placed for adoption. The Later Life Letter gives you an explanation of why you were adopted and the reasons and actions that led up to this decision being made. This should include, whenever possible, the people involved in this decision, and the facts at that time.The letter will be given to you at an appropriate time after the Adoption Order is made depending on your age and the reasons you were adopted. It is usually given to you around the ages of 10-12 years.

Letterbox contact

When it decided that ‘indirect contact’ can happen with your birth family this will be through the Letterbox Service. Your birth family and adoptive family share information by swapping letters usually once or twice a year.

Listening Culture

A listening culture is when people are being listened to so that the service is doing what people want rather than what the service thinks is best.





Your social worker will have a manager and it is this person’s job to make sure your social worker is doing the job properly.  The manager also makes decisions that your social worker can’t make on his or her own.

MoMo (Mind of My Own)

Sometimes you have thoughts, views and feelings that you want to share with the people involved in your care. Perhaps it’s something you want to do, change or complain about.

MOMO gives you three different ways to share them. The scenarios will help you prepare for meetings, change things about your situation and sort out problems that are bugging you. It can be used on a normal computer, as well as iPhones and Android devices. It is best to look for ‘Mind of My Own’ in the app store. Your views and feelings are passed to the participation team who can help resolve some of the issues you raised.

Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is the place where all safeguarding and child protection enquiries are dealt with. The MASH is staffed by professionals from a range of agencies including police, probation, fire, ambulance, health, education and social care. These professionals share information to so thatchildren can be protected and significant harm can be prevented.


Minutes are notes that are taken at a meeting so that there is a written copy of everything that was said, and who said it. There will always be someone ‘taking minutes’ at a meeting; or ‘minuting’ what’s being said. This means that your social worker or other workers can check back and see who said what. You should get copies of the minutes of any meeting (such as your CIC review) that you were in.



NEET – Not in Education, Employment or Training

This is about young people aged 16+ who are not in education, employed or training for work.

NVQ – National Vocational Qualification

A form of qualification that is based on working and work experience, rather than sitting an exam.



Ofsted stands for the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They inspect services that care for children and young people (including schools, nurseries, fostering, adoption and safeguardingservices etc.). They help providers that are not yet of good standard to improve, monitor their progress and share with them the best practice.

Out of County Placements

Sometimes children need to be placed in a different county. This can be for their own safety, or because a suitable placement can’t be found in Devon. If you are placed in another county you are still the responsibility of Devon County Council and have all the same rights as a young person in Devon. Out of county is also sometimes called out of authority.


Parental Responsibility (PR)

Parental responsibility is the right and power of a parent to make decisions about their child. If you are on a full care order, your social worker will make decisions for you.  If you have been accommodated, your parents still have the right to make decisions about your life. PR can be quite complicated and confusing.  For more information go to;



Participation is about getting children and young people involved in the decision-making processes and participating in changing and shaping the services that affect them. There are many different ways to get involved.In Devon you can get involved through Stand Up! Speak Up!(Children in Care Council). You could also get involved with the Youth Parliament or the Youth Service Voice & Influence groups.

Pathway Plan

This is a plan that’s drawn up around the time of your 15th birthday and it’s about your future independence and what you are going to do after you leave care. You will work on your pathway plan with a member of the Permanence & Transition Team.

Personal Advisor (PA)

This is a person from the leaving care team who will give you advice about what to do from the age of 16 onwards. Your PA will offer you support and advise you about what’sbest to do in your situation and with your talents.


This is about making sure you feel happy, stable and secure for a long period of time – ideally for most of your childhood and into your adult life. It is the aim of all social workers to give you a sense of permanence, and it’s about what is right for you – whether that’s a return to your family, adoption into a new family or long term fostering.

Permanence Plan

The Permanence Plan is made after you come into care and is the way that your social worker plans to give you a sense of permanence.

PEP – Personal Education Plan

This is part of your care plan and it’s a record of how Devon County Council plans to educate you. You should have your first PEP meeting within 28 days of coming into care, your second three months later and then they are every six months. PEP meetings often take place at school and sometimes they are combined with your CIC Review.


The place where you are living is called your placement.

Placement with Parents

When a looked after child is going to return to their birth parents a Placement with Parents arrangement is made and monitored. This should be planned, approved and assessed.

Private Fostering

Private fostering is when a child or young person under 16 years old (or 18 if they have a disability) is looked after for 28 days or more by someone who is not a close relative, guardian or person with parental responsibility. Close relatives include parents, step-parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents. It is not private fostering if the arrangement was made by Devon County Council, or if the person looking after the child is an approved foster carer. People become private foster carers for all sorts of reasons. Private foster carers can be a friend of the child’s family, or be someone who is willing to care for the child of a family they do not know.


This is anyone who is providing a service, goods or facilities, whether paid or free. For example, a foster care provider provides foster carers for Devon County Council.



This is a list of questions about a particular thing.The idea is to find out what people think about it. You may be asked to tick boxes or write a short answer. Sending out a questionnaire to a lot of people is a good way of getting feedback.




This is a process by which a person comes to have more and more extreme political, social or religious views that go against or challenge widely held ideals of freedom of choice and epxression.


REACH stands for Reducing Exploitation and Absence from Care or Home. REACH supports young people up to the age of 17years, who either run away or who may be at risk of, or experiencing Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).  REACH is a team of specialist Youth Workers and Social Workers who work directly with young people to help them recognise risks and keep themselves safe. REACH understands that running away and CSE are both difficult subjects for young people to speak about, so the workers spend time with young people talking about things that worry them and move at the young person’s pace.

Residential Homes

Most children in care will go to foster homes – it’s the closest thing to ordinary family life.  In some places, but not Devon, it may only be possible for a child to live in a residential home or children’s home. There is one secure unit in Devon, Atkinson Unit, for when the courts decide a Secure Accommodation Order is needed.


This term is sometimes used when talking about children. You may have heard the phrase ‘High resilience’ or heard someone say that a child is ‘very resilient’. It describes how well a child or young person copes with stress and change, and how quickly they can adapt to new challenges and learn to cope and succeed. High resilience is considered to be good and low resilience can make some adults worry about how you will cope with change in your life.


Please see LAC/CIC review.

Reviewing Officer

Please see IRO/ISRO

Risk Assessment

This is a document written by social workers and people who work with children. It’s about any possible dangers and what steps to take to minimise any danger. Risk assessments are also written for events and for buildings.



Secure Accommodation

This is where a young person is detained and closely monitored. It’s often for their own safety, or the safety of others, and can be because if the young person is running away a lot. It’s always a last resort, though.

Secure Accommodation Order

You might become a looked after child because you’ve been arrested by the police and they’ve asked the local authority to find you somewhere to live.

If you have been to court because you were charged with an offence, and you are aged 10-16, the court may have remanded you to the care of the local authority, which will find you somewhere to live. You might be placed in secure accommodation or in a secure children’s home.It may be because the court is worried that the young person is likely to injure themselves or other people or will run away.


This is about how good you feel about yourself. If you have high self-esteem, you feel confident about who you are and what you can achieve.  If you have low self-esteem, you aren’t as confident and as happy as you could be. Sometimes people can appear to have high self-esteem when they don’t.

Self Harm

Self harm is the term used to describe when someone deliberately hurts themselves as a way of dealing with their emotions. They may do this in a number of ways, including cutting or scratching themselves, burning themselves with a flame or something hot, causing bruising to the body by hitting themselves, throwing their body against something that will hurt, taking overdoses of tablets or medication, inserting objects into the body, or hair pulling. (There are many other things as well.)

Self harm is a coping strategy that helps people to manage their emotional hurt or stress. It is important to remember that it is not attempted suicide, but it is something that people feel they need to do in order to survive. Often people self harm to try and feel as if they have more control over their emotions, or to get immediate relief from high levels of distress. Sometimes people harm themselves because of self hate, or because they want to punish themselves.

Self harm is NOTattention seeking or manipulative. It is NOT a mental illness but it is a symptom of internal stress or distress. It is NOT just a young person’s problem. It is NOT a suicide attempt, but is about staying alive. Self harm is NOT the problem – the person is struggling with something else. It is NOT a problem that cannot be solved, people can learn to manage their emotions in a different way.

SEND – Special Educational Needs

These are particular problems or needs that get in the way of education and make learning difficult.

Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.Children or young people may be tricked into believing they’re in a loving and equal relationship. They might be invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol. They may also be groomed online. Some children and young people are trafficked into or within the UK for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation can also happen to young people in gangs.

Special Guardianship Order (SGO)

A Special Guardianship Order is an order appointing one or more individuals to be a child’s ‘special guardian’. It is meant for those children who cannot live with their birth parents and who would benefit from a legally secure placement.It is a more secure order than a residence order because a parent cannot apply to discharge it unless they have the permission of the court to do so.  However, it is less secure than an adoption order because it does not end the legal relationship between the child and his/her birth parents.The Special Guardian will have clear responsibility for all day to day decisions about the care of the child.

Social Services

see Children’s Services or Local Authority

Social Worker

It’s a social worker’s job to make sure that people who have trouble looking after themselves are cared for. There are many different kinds of social workers working with all sorts of different  people. Some social workers work with elderly people or disabled people, and some with children and young people, or families.

Staying Put

A Staying Put arrangement is where a young person who has been living in foster care remains in the former foster home after the age of 18.

Supervision Order

Sometimes, when a young person commits an offence the court imposes a Supervision Order.The offender comes under the supervision of a probation officer, social worker or a Youth Offending Team member acting as a responsible officer and certain conditions are put in place.See more at: http://www.devon.gov.uk/exeter_yot_sentences#supervision_orders




Child trafficking is child abuse. Children are recruited, moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold. Children are trafficked for sexual abuse, benefit fraud, forced marriage, domestic servitude such as cleaning, childcare, cooking, forced labour in factories or agriculture, criminal activity such as pickpocketing, begging, transporting drugs, working on cannabis farms, selling pirated DVDs, bag theft.Many children are trafficked into the UK from abroad, but children can also be trafficked from one part of the UK to another.If you have any worries call ChildLine on 0800 1111.

Transitions / Transition Planning

This is plan which is made for people over 14 who have a disability or a special educational need.  It says what Devon County Council will do to support the transition from the end of the person’s education into the next phase of their life.

Twin Tracking

This is when a social worker is assessing whether you’re able to return home at the same time as looking for a long term foster placement or adoptive parents for you. It’s to make sure that there’s no long delay.


UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – Article 12

This is probably the most important statement ever made about your rights as a child. The United Nations Article 12:

  1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
  2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.


Virtual School

Starting a new school can be difficult for any child at any age and if a child has moved from their family home or to a new foster home this can bring added pressure. The Virtual School isn’t actually a school, but it keeps a record of all of the looked after children in Devon who attend any nursery, school or college. Virtual School staff arethere to help things to go as smoothly as possible. They also keep track of how all looked after children in education are making progress and achieving.   Like a real school, there is a Headteacher in charge and a board of Governors to make sure things are going as well for you as possible.





Young Offender

This is someone who’s under 18 who commits a crime or is involved in criminal behaviour. They may appear in court, get an ASBO and eventually spend time in a young offenders’ institute.

Youth Offending Team (YOT)

This is a team of people whose job it is to support young people who have committed crime or who are likely to commit crime in the future.


Devon YISP (Youth Inclusion and Support ) provides early intervention crime prevention through teams which sit within the Devon Youth Offending Service. They work to reduce the number of first time entrants to the criminal justice system.  They work with children, young people and their families to address the causes of poor behaviour and get them back on track to a better future.

Youth Parliament

This is a national Youth Parliament with 600 members aged 11 – 18. The group is elected from their own areas and campaign on matters of importance to children. There are young people from Devon who are members of the National Youth Parliament (MYP) and they take the issues that are important to the young people of Devon to the national meeting held every year. Votes for elections are held in schools across the UK.

Youth Worker

Youth work helps young people learn about themselves, others and society, through informal educational activities which combine enjoyment, challenge and learning.

Youth workers work typically with young people aged between 11 and 25. Their work seeks to promote young people’s personal and social development and enable them to have a voice, influence and place in their communities and society as a whole.


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