Family and friends (kinship) care

Kinship care means that a relative or other adult known to the child is caring for them. Under section 81(6) Social Services and Well-being(Wales) Act 2014 (previously section 23 (6) (b) Children Act 1989), a local authority placing a looked-after child should give prority to a placement with ‘a relative, friend or other person connected with him’.

Children in Wales have recently published a guide – Wales-Kinship-Care-Guide-ENGLISH-WEB

Most of the resources on the Family Rights Group website are useful for kinship carers in Wales but some references to the law relate to England. Similarly, Grandparents Plus have advice and support factsheets and guides. Another useful resource for grandparent kinship carers is the Grandparents Legal Centre.

Kinship care might be an informal arrangement. If this continues for an extended period it may come within the regulations for private fostering.

Resources about kinship placements in the context of Pre Proceedings and applications of care orders are available on the Court Orders and Pre Proceedings website.

There is a summary of types of kinship arrangements on this CoramBAAF webpage.

When consulting these websites, it should be noted that there is no requirement in Wales for a local authority to publish a ‘family and friends policy’ as there is in England.

A formal kinship placement can be one of the following:

Kinship carer is an approved foster carer

If the child is looked after by the local authority, a family carer will need to be approved as a foster carer, but under Regulation 24 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (Wales) Regulation 2015 ,  where a local authority are satisfied that the immediate placement of a child is necessary, they may place the child with a family member or friend who is not a foster parent for a period not exceeding six days. Under Regs 26-27 this can be succeeded by a temporary placeemnt for up to 16 weeks while the carer is assessed.

Kinship foster carers are paid foster care allowances.

Child arrangements order

Before April 2014, this was known as a residence order. Applications can be made under section 8 Children Act 1989. The effect of the order is that the person holding the order shares parental responsibility with the parent(s).

Financial support under this type of order is discretionary.

Special guardianship orders

This require an application to court under section 14A Children Act 1989 and a report to be prepared by the local authority in accordance with regulations. The effect is that parental responsibility is shared but it can be exercised exclusively by the special guardian.

Special guardians may be entitled to financial support. A Code of Practice sets out the processes and entitlements of special guardianship orders.

Where a local authority has applied for a care order and a family member asks to be considered as a carer, a ‘viability assessment’ may first be carried out before an in-depth assessment of the suitability of the placement. The purpose of a viability assessment is to assess whether a full assessment should be undertaken, within the court timetable.