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Being in care

In some instances where there isn’t enough safety in the child’s family, it may be necessary for a child of young person to come into care to be looked after by us.
Are you worried about the safety or welfare of a child?

If you think a child or young person may be in immediate danger, call 999. Otherwise contact us on 020 8314 6660 or out of hours call 020 8314 6000.

For most children and young people, the right place for them is to be with their family. Where it is not possible for children to remain within their own family or their wider family, we arrange and provide foster care, adoption, residential care and leaving care services for children in our care. This means the child or young person is 'looked after' by Lewisham Council who is the 'corporate parent'.

These services aim to provide stability and security to those children in care so that they achieve their full potential.

Care can be for a short time while the family get some help to make enough changes for it to be safe for the child or young person to return home, or it could be because the parents are in another country. Care can also be for a long time until the young person reaches adulthood.

When a child or young person is in care they will have their own social worker who is responsible for making sure they are being properly cared for.

What does my social worker do?

A social worker is responsible for making sure you are properly cared for. They will visit regularly (a minimum of every 6 weeks), and will work closely with you and the important people in your life to make sure you grow up in a safe and supportive environment.

What's a care plan?

A written document that explains how your care will be safe. It sets out the day to day arrangements for care, where you will live, where you'll go to school, who will look after you, how often you will see people that matter to you. Your social worker will write this plan with you, so your views are always considered. You may not always get what you want, but if you don't, the reasons will be carefully explained to you. Your care plan will be reviewed with you to help ensure the plan always meets your needs.

Independent visitors and advocacy

Independent visitors

Independent visitors are adult volunteers who are matched with a young person in care for the purpose of visiting, advising and befriending them through regular activities. Activities with independent visitors are all bespoke to the wishes and feelings of each young person, with the aim of providing access to positive opportunities. 

Who is eligible for this service?

  • young people who have little or no positive contact with their families or someone with parental responsibility 
  • young people who are socially isolated from their own peer group 
  • young people who are placed out of borough 
  • young people who would benefit from a mentor to promote their learning and educational attainment 

How can I make an independent visitor referral?

Referrals are made through a referral form completed by the social worker where the most appropriate outcomes for the match are selected. You can also email Action for Children independent visitors or call 020 7254 9408.


Advocacy is about supporting children and young people to make sure that their rights are respected, and their views and wishes are heard. An advocate can provide support by helping you to say want you want, making sure you get the services you are entitled to or by helping you understand your rights.

Who is eligible for this service?

  • children under the age of 10 that are Looked After 
  • children and young people that are subject to Child Protection plans aged 11 to 16 years old 
  • young people eligible for a Leaving Care service up to their 21 birthday (or up to the age of 25 if in employment or education)
  • young people that require Personal Adviser support to address a need under the new Children and & Social Work Act 2017, up to their 25 birthday 

How can I make an advocacy referral?

Contact the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) by using the NYAS online referral form or calling 0808 808 1001. 

Independent Reviewing Officers

An independent reviewing officer (IRO) is employed by us, however they are independent of any of our social work teams. Their job is to chair a regular meeting called a Looked After Review, 3 months after a child or young person comes into care and every 6 months thereafter.  

Their role is to ensure that your care plan fully reflects all your needs, and that these are met. This includes your health, education and home life needs, and who you see.