The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper which explains what kind of help is available for grandparent, other family, and friends’ carers – also known as kinship carers. Kinship carers look after children where their parents are not able to do so.
There are several different types of arrangements for family and friends care, including: private arrangements, family and friends’ local authority foster care, child arrangement orders and special guardianship orders.
Financial help can be available for family and friend’s carers from local authoritiesand/or the social security or tax credits system. However, eligibility for assistance may depend upon the legal basis of the care arrangement and financial assistance may be means-tested.
Kinship Care is an arrangement where a child or young person who cannot be cared for by their parents goes to live with a relative or a family friend. Kinship Care
includes children who may be:
– Living in an informal arrangement made by the parents
– Looked after by the Local Authority and placed with kinship foster carers
– On a Child Arrangement Order or Special Guardianship Order
In certain situation the assistance of a family member or friend will deter the Local Authority from issuing care proceedings.
There are clear benefits if Kinship care takes place for the child, the main advantage being they are kept within their family network. Research has shown that children in kinship care benefit from increased placement stability compared to children that must go into Local Authority care and therefore unable to maintain family relationships. Kinship carers that have prevented a child from going into care are entitled to financial support, depending on their Local Authority’s policy. The briefing paper published by the House of Commons – “Financial support for family and friends’ carers (kinship carers) “- considers what help is available to family and friends carers looking after children where their parents are not in a position to do so.
When looking at whether or not a family or friend carer qualifies for local authority support will depend on the legal nature of the arrangement. Other than in limited cases, local authorities are not obliged to provide support where care arrangements have been made without their involvement. Local authorities have a statutory duty to promote the upbringing of children who are in need by their family, where this is consistent with the duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of such children. Statutory guidance to the Children Act 1989 makes it clear that, before a local authority considers applying for a care order to
take a child into its care, consideration should be given to placing the child with family and friends with assistance though family support services. Local authority foster parents are entitled to an allowance to cover the cost of caring for foster children in their home. Allowances are set at a local level and can vary by location, and according to the age and needs of the child. However, the Department for Education publishes a minimum allowance annually, which sets out the weekly amount a foster carer can expect to receive.
The national minimum fostering weekly allowances in England for the 2021/22 tax year are:
The National Minimum Fostering Allowance is designed to cover the cost of caring for a fostered child. This includes clothes, toiletries, travel, food, and all other expenses incurred. A foster-carer may receive a greater amount if they have certain skills or make a particularly large commitment to fostering, or if the child has specific needs.
Local authorities should pay all local authority approved foster parents the same level of foster allowance, whether they are related to the child or not. In England, local authority policies covering the payment of fostering allowances must make clear which costs carers are expected to meet from the allowance and any additional payments which may be available, such as for specialist equipment or extra-curricular activities. However, a person receiving a fostering allowance is not eligible for Child Benefit or Child Tax Credit for that child.
Under, the Children Act 1989, private fostering is where a child under the age of 16 – or 18 if they have a disability – is placed in the care of someone who is not their parent, somebody else who has parental responsibility for them, or a close relative, for 28 days or more. The definition of “relative” includes a “grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt or step-parent”. Even though, local authorities are not involved in arranging a private fostering placement. They do have duties in relation to the children involved in such arrangements, including carrying out criminal records checks on the private foster carer.
Several kinship care arrangements fall within the term “private non-statutory arrangements”. This type of arrangement includes, for example, when a child’s parent has asked a close relative to care for their child, and there was no involvement from local authority children’s services.
Private non-statutory arrangement for kinship can be made when:
– The child is a non-disabled child over the age of 16 years;
– The child is cared for, and provided with accommodation by either:
o A parent of his (whether or not he has parental responsibility) or
o A person who is not a parent of his, but who has parental responsibility;
o A relative;
– The child is accommodated by the person caring for him for less than 28 days and that person does not intend to accommodate him for a period of 28 days or more;
– The child concerned comes within the exemptions specified by Children Act 1989
If you are looking to obtain a more information on family matters, contact Stalwart Solicitors. We provide 30 minutes free legal advice and can assist you on all aspects of your divorce and matrimonial financial matters. See www.stalwartsolicitors.com and email@example.com.