Vulnerable children in care are today being urged to check out a new Internet website which aims to tell them their rights.

The website, Carelaw, has been designed by the Solicitors Family Law Association together with the charity NCH Action for Children.

The joint initiative - believed to be the first of its kind - will provide basic information in a child-friendly format for young people in local authority care.

In the Bradford district, there are about 700 "looked after" children, including about 400 who are in foster homes or residential homes.

Bradford SFLA representative Lyn Ayrton, a specialist in family law with Gordons Wright and Wright, said: "We did a pilot study and asked young people in care what they wanted and they felt a website was a good way of getting the information across.

"Lots of young people these days have access to computers, either in their homes, libraries or schools."

The website will cover information about punishment, pregnancy, crime, and legal issues to do with parental responsibility and discharge from care.

Mrs Ayrton said: "It seems a lot of young people in care do not know what their rights are and sometimes do not want to ask their foster parents. Even if they do, the advice might not be correct.

"They may want to know about how to change their surname, or if they have to have their foster parents present when they see a doctor, or they may need advice about problems at school.

"The information on this website will be independent and authoritative."

The new website has been welcomed by Bradford Council social services chiefs.

Councillor Mike Young, chairman of the social services committee, said: "This sounds like a good scheme and one for the future. The only problem is that children will need to have access to the Internet, either at school or elsewhere to be able to use it."

Alan Caygill, of Bradford social services, said: "The website is an extension of what we are already doing with our In Care Groups, the difference is that young people can now access the information directly instead of having to attend a group.

"Young people in care can be in very complex situations and independent advice like this will be a positive benefit."

The Carelaw website is at

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