Around 145,000 children in England are being looked after by people who are not their parents. Many of these children are not cared for by professional foster carers, but by members of their extended family or friends. This report is about these ‘family and friends carers’, who provide such a vital support system for children who can no longer live with their parents, but who we find are being treated unfairly and not receiving the support to which they are entitled.
Promoting good practice
> In accordance with statutory guidance, have a suitable family and friends care policy and follow that policy.– Local Government Ombudman
> Keep good records of decisions about a child’s care. Where the council has had involvement with the child’s family before that child came to live with a family member or friend, the
council should be able to show it has explained to the carer the implications of agreeing to
an informal family care arrangement, rather than becoming a family and friends foster carer or seeking a special guardianship order or residence order.
> When placing a child with a family member, councils should ensure they have considered the child’s views and assess whether the placement is suitable to meet the child’s needs.
> Pay the correct rates in accordance with statutory guidance. Pay special guardians the same rate as foster carers and pay family and friends foster carers any additional allowances that it would have paid to professional foster carers based on the needs of the child.
> Make sure its policy takes into account exceptional circumstances for those carers with special guardianship and residence orders who might receive discretionary allowances.
> Provide suitable evidence and explanation before departing from any Government guidance about support for family and friends foster carers.
> Make sure that appropriate and timely checks are made of family and friends carers to prevent the child being placed at additional risk and to ensure that the carers are able to provide suitable care for the child, both emotionally and financially, to try to prevent a breakdown of the new arrangements and to safeguard the child’s welfare.
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