The circumstances when parents make their own arrangements for relatives to care for their children or when a close relative steps in without obtaining a legal order and the child is not looked after by the Local Authority, (usually the child’s grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt) will be referred to as an informal kinship carer.
Delegating day to day decision making
This means that parents still have parental responsibility and are responsible for financial support and decision making of a child so they can intervene at any time. However, they can delegate day to day decision making to the kinship carers, but will have to consent to major decisions such as medical treatment (except in emergencies), schooling and foreign travel they can decide whether or not the kinship care arrangement should continue.
No approval is needed to be an informal kinship carer, it is up to the parents to decide the arrangements and also the length of that arrangement.
This does not impact on any services and support that should be available to a child that would have been with living with it’s parents. However, if the child has been assessed as a child in need by a social worker/ Local Authority, it may be possible for family support services and/ or financial assistant to be provided to support the placement if the criteria are met.
Family Support services
If you are in a situation, you may wish to request an assessment under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, where the Local Authority should either undertake an assessment or explain to you why the child does not meet the criteria. Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 is very applicable, because the Local Authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their area who are ‘in need’ and to promote their upbringing by their families (which also includes kinship carers) they do this by providing a range of family support services which is something which is sometimes referred to Section 17 support. However, it is discretionary and there is no automatic entitlement.
Contact The Family Law Co for expert advice
If you would like some advice about this, please contact The Family Law Company and ask to speak to Stephen Sowden on 01392 421777.