Common kinship care questions
Here are the most common questions asked about kinship care.
Contact us if you have any other questions or enquiries.
Q - Who are kinship carers?
A - Kinship carers are either relatives or friends who have a significant relationship with a child, and have agreed to care for the child on a full time basis.
Q - Why are some kinship carers treated differently than others?
A - There have always been children who have lived with family members other than their parents and these arrangements were made between the family, and did not involve social work or other professionals. These are considered informal carers and private family arrangements.
Over the past few years, more children have been placed social work with family members as a formal plan for the child. It is this group of family members or friends who have a pre-existing relationship with the child who are regarded as formal kinship carers. They are expected to care for the child as part of the child’s care plan.
Formal kinship care is where social work have placed and accommodated a child with kinship carers under Section 25 of the Children Scotland Act 1995 or Supervision Order under the Children’s Hearings Scotland Act 2011. This does not apply if the birth parent or parents are living with the relatives or friends and only applies if the carers have sole, full time care of the child i.e not a shared care arrangement with birth parents.
Q - What are Local Authorities duties in relation to kinship carers?
A - We have a legal duty to assess and approve a kinship carer who is caring for a child who is considered Looked After under Section 25 Children (Scotland) Act, 1995 or Supervision Order under Section 119 Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011.
The Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 places duties on local authorities to formally recognise, assess, approve and support kinship care arrangement where the child is “looked after” and, therefore, in a legal relationship with that local authority. The Looked After Children Regulations gives kinship carers a formal, statutory basis with a range of responsibilities and duties to meet the needs of the Looked After Child. We review the approval of kinship carers at least once a year. Additional reviews may be held in the event of any significant changes, complaints or allegations.
Q - What does Looked After mean?
A - If a child is considered by a Children’s Hearing to need care and protection, they can place the child on a Supervision Requirement that will decide where the child lives. If the Children’s Hearing decides the child cannot live with a parent, but must live with someone else then this child would be considered to be Looked After.
Q - What happens if a parent places the child with a kinship carer?
A - This would be considered an informal arrangement and there would be no legal basis for us to be involved.
Q - How do you become an approved kinship carer?
A - If we remove a child from their parent and place them in sole care of a family member pr person known to the child, then the regulations require a number of initial checks to be done. These include police, health and local authority checks. If the child is to stay with the carers as part of the child’s care plan, then a full kinship care assessment needs to be done. This will include a number of home visits by a social worker.
The assessment will require references to be taken up, information will be gathered in relation to the background of all household members, and the social worker will explore with the carers their suitability and capacity to meet the needs of the child. This is a formal assessment that makes a recommendation to Aberdeenshire’s Fostering, Kinship Care, Adult Placement (Supported Lodgings) Panel for consideration. It is when a positive recommendation to the agency decision maker is made that the carers will be formally approved as kinship carers.
Q - What are the circumstances that would mean a kinship carer would not be approved?
A - Should the kinship carer have previous convictions that would prevent them from being members of the Protecting Vulnerable Adults Scheme (PVG), then we could not approve them. The regulations require certain criteria to be met, including medical or previous history that would limit the carers ability to meet the needs of the child. The focus always has to be on what is best for the child and whether the kinship carer could keep the child safe and provide a secure environment.
Q - When does the Local Authority pay a kinship care allowance?
A - A kinship care allowance is only payable when kinship carers are approved carers. The kinship care allowance is made on behalf of the child. There is mandatory requirement for a Citizens Advice Kinship Better Off Benefits Check as part of the finance process.
Q - How much is the kinship care allowance?
A - The kinship care allowance is based on the age related fostering allowance, less any eligible benefits. All kinship carers must meet with the Citizens Advice Bureau to have a benefits eligibility check. The allowance is reviewed annually and any changes in circumstances need to be notified.
Q - Why are only approved kinship carers given a kinship care allowance?
A - This is due to the legal regulations placed on the Local Authority. When a child is placed on a private arrangement then the kinship carers can claim UK state benefits as the child is not in the care of the Local Authority. Please contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for benefit checks to ensure that you are claiming all that you are entitled to.
Q - Can the Local Authority provide any financial support to kinship carers who are looking after a child on an informal basis?
A - In some situations our Kinship Care team can give some financial support on a discretionary basis to help a family and child to manage. This should only be on a short term basis. We have a level of what funding can be provided, based on the child’s age and need.
Q - What about other types of support?
Q - What happens if the child is placed by another Local Authority?
A - If a child is placed with kinship carers by another local authority then it is the duty of that local authority to give any financial support to the kinship carers. The local authority should tell us that they have placed a child.