It is estimated that around 300,000 children in England and Wales are cared for by a relative, friend or other person. Only around 7,000 of these children are being cared for by a friend or family member who has been approved as a local authority foster carer.
The term kinship care refers to a situation when relatives or friends look after children who cannot live with their parents. Kinship care may be a private arrangement or it can be formalised through a court order.
Examples of kinship care are ;–
- Private arrangement – an informal arrangement where a child is looked after by someone other than the parent, often a grand-parent or aunt and uncle.
- Private fostering – when a child is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative. The local authority are not involved in this arrangement, which is made privately between the parent and the carer and an arrangement which is intended to last 28 days or more.
- Kinship Foster Care – this is where the Local Authority has legal responsibility for a child and places them with a family member/friend.
- Special Guardianship – Special guardianship is a private law remedy.
It is frequently grandparents who, for one reason or another, find themselves being regarded as kinship carers. There has been a steep influx in the number of grandparents applying to the courts for a Special Guardianship Order in order to acquire parental responsibility for their grandchildren. They are also increasingly taking action to secure contact with their grandchildren in the event of a divorce, and often have to step in due to parental illness or premature death. Grandparents may also need to intervene in how their grandchildren are being raised and this has led to an increase in applications for a Special Guardianship Order. For example, one case involved grandparents concerned about a grandchild being taken out of school to go on a round-the-world trip.
If the above situation applies to you, you should contact us for further advice as to what action you need to take. Other remedies may be more appropriate for you.
Updated 31 December 2015
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published.Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances. (50587)