A-Z of care

​Glossary of terms



An advocate is someone who speaks up for you on your behalf. Your advocate can support you to ensure your views and feelings are heard when decisions are being made about your life. They can also help with talking to professionals if you feel shy or are unsure about what you want to say.

To request an advocate contact us using the online form below:

Request an advocate
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Care Leavers Charter

The Care Leavers’ Charter was drawn up by the Department for Education in October 2012.  It sets out a list of promises for central and local government to make to young people moving out of care and into adulthood. It is agreed each year by council.

Care Order

A care order is granted by a court and makes the local authority the 'corporate parent' of a child or young person. This means we take the responsibility of looking after you on a day to day basis. A care order will normally last until you are 18.

Care Plan

A care plan describes how we will look after you and what needs to be done to help you grow up happy, healthy and safe. You will be involved in making this plan.

Child Protection Conference

This a meeting between the people who look after your care and your family to plan how best to look after your safety.

Children in Care Council

The Children in Care Council is a chance for you to have a say about things that really matter and affect your life. Whether you live with a foster carer, in a children’s home or have recently left care, your ideas can make a big difference

Children's Home (also called Residential Home)

This is a place where several children can stay. Rather than one family, a different team of people, known as residential social workers, will look after you. There is always someone on duty to make sure you are safe and happy.

Coming into Care guide

This guide is for you to understand what care is about - it gives you important information you need about your life situation. It tells you what you need to know and will help you to organise things that your carers need to know too.

Connected Person

This is when you are not able to live with your parents and instead go to live with a relative or family friend.


​Contact is where you have time with your family. Some young people in care can spend time with their family and others are not able to, which can be for many different reasons.  If you are unhappy with your contact then talk to your Social Worker or Personal Advisor,  and Independent Reviewing Officer or the Children’s Rights Service.

Corporate Parent

When you come into care, in most cases a court will make a care order. When this happens, the county council become your corporate parent and has a legal responsibility for your needs and safety.

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Eligible Child

This is one category of care leaver; a 16 or 17 year old who is still in care and who has been in care for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14.

Emergency placements

​This is a type of fostering that involves caring for children or young people who need somewhere safe to stay immediately, usually for a few nights.  This can happen at very short notice.

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Former Relevant Child

This is one category of care leaver; young people between 18 and 21 who have been eligible or relevant children or both. If, at the age of 21, you are still being helped by the local authority, you will remain a former relevant child up to the age of 25. The programme of education or training will be set out in the Pathway Plan.

Foster Carer

​Foster carers are people who look after you in their homes, like you are member of their family.

You might stay with a foster carer for a day, a week, a month or even longer.

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Health Plan

This is an initial plan which will be completed by your doctor, along with your carers. It will say what needs to happen to keep you healthy.

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Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

​The job of an IRO is to check on your care plan to make sure it is meeting your needs and that you are safe and well looked after. They will make sure that your views are listened to and chair your LAC reviews (See L).

Independent Visitor

An independent visitor is a volunteer who will spend time with just you on regular basis. They are someone that you can talk to, get along with and ask for advice.

Interim Care Order

​Under an interim care order, we will take temporary responsibility for looking after you and housing you, until a court decides what is best for you

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Key Worker

​The key worker is a member of staff at a children's home who will help you settle in, with any problems and answer any questions you have.

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Leaving care team

​Northamptonshire County Council wants every care leaver to reach their full potential: to be healthy, happy, safe and secure, valued and respected

The leaving care team will support you after you leave care up to the age of 21. We can also continue to support you after 21 if you are training or in education and provide you with support to get into education up to the age of 25.

Looked After Child (LAC)

If you are a looked after child (LAC), the local authority will look after your health, education and wellbeing and provide you with a family or placement where you will be cared for.

Looked After Child (LAC) review

This is a meeting chaired by your Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) to make sure things are going ok with your care plan and a chance for you to talk about how things are for you. 

People that attend the meeting are people involved in your care, it usually it involves you, your IRO, your Social Worker, Foster Carers and Education. Your IRO will talk to you before to see if there is anything you want to talk about in the meeting.

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Participation Service

​The participation service offers advice and activities for children and young people aged between 12 and 24. It also allows you to get involved with children’s rights.

Pathway Plan

A pathway plan will help you deal with your future when you leave care in much more detail. Your plan will be your own and it will be flexible to suit your needs.

Personal Advisor

A personal advisor is there for you from the age of 16 to provide support and improve your opportunities in life when you become an adult and leave care.

Personal Education Plan (PEP)

You complete a PEP with your school and social worker to help plan your education. One of your teachers will be responsible for making sure that what is in the plan happens.

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Qualifying Young Person

This is a type of care leaver; young people who in care after the age of 16, but are not eligible because of 13 week criteria. You must be under 21 (or under 25 if you are in further education or training). You may also be a Qualifying Young Person if you are 16-21 and under a Special Guardianship Order.

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Relevant Child

This is a type of care leaver; 16 or 17 year olds who have been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, and who have been looked after at some time after their 16th birthday and who have now left care. This includes young people who have been detained through the youth justice system or hospitalised after their 16th birthday.

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Section 20

​A section 20 is when we take temporary care of a child or young person and where they live. This can only be done with the agreement of whoever has parental responsibility for you

Section 31

​This is when the local authority is granted a full responsibility for you.

Section 47

​This is when we carry out an investigation if we believe a child or young person has suffered harm, or is likely to suffer harm.

Shooting Stars

Shooting Stars are a group of disabled young people who help represent other young people with additional needs in Northamptonshire.

Social Worker

​Your social worker will be your main contact with us while you are in care. They are trained to help you during your time in care. They will spend time with you, listen to you and make sure that you are happy during your time in care. It is their job to make sure that you are healthy, are going to the right school and are being supported to do the best you can.

Special Guardian

​A special guardian is a carer who will look after you if you cannot live with your birth parents. This may be a relative or someone who has looked after you.

Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)

​This helps to find if you have any other needs that you might need help with while you are in care. Some of this will be included in your health plan.

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Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers (UASC)

​When you come into care, specialist advisors will look after you, make sure you have somewhere to live and will give you access to a social worker.

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Virtual School

​The Virtual School support, monitor and promote the education of children and young people in care. They provide training and work with schools and teachers to ensure that education is suitable and support is in place. They also provide information and advice to those involved in the education of previously looked after children.

The Virtual School Participation Programme offers holiday programmes in social, cultural, sporting and leisure activities to promote achievement for our children and young people growing up in care.

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Young person's allowance (YPA)

​We will support care leavers with financial help and support to help you live independently as a care leaver.

Youth Offending Service Worker

If you have been found guilty or admitted to a criminal offence (crime), you will have a Youth Offending Service (YOS) Worker. They will work with you to help you change your behaviour and make sure you are completing any punishment

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