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There are a number of reasons and numerous circumstances when a child is being cared for by friends or relatives. If you are caring for someone else’s child you may be a kinship carer.
Kinship care means that relatives or friends look after children who cannot, for whatever reason, live with their parents.
A kinship carer may be a family member or a person who is not related to the child, but within their social network. Ie, a close family friend or a neighbour with who the child knows well.
This arrangement could either be by agreement between the parent and the carer known as a private arrangement or formalised through a court order.
A private arrangement is an informal arrangement were a child is looked after by individuals (relative or close family member) other than the parent with no legal agreements being undertaken.
A private fostering arrangement is when a child under the age of 16 years is cared for by someone who is not their parent or close family member for a period of 28 days or more. In these circumstances, the carer must notify their local children services team (social services) where further help and assistance may be offered.
Kinship fostering is when the local authority (social services) have legal responsibility for a child and place them with a family member or friend who is then deemed as the foster carer for the child. The Local Authority have legal responsibility for a child if they have obtained a care order whether interim or final from the court, thus granting them parental responsibility or when a parent who has parental responsibility agrees, voluntarily for the child to be cared for by the local authority.
Special Guardianship is a formal court order that was introduced in 2005 which gives the carer parental responsibility of the child. Please see previous articles for further information regarding special guardianship orders.
No matter what arrangement is put into place whether by agreement or by virtue of a court order, it is important to identify the type of arrangement to ensure that you know your rights and responsibilities regarding the care of the child. Should you have any doubt or have any further questions, then please contact one of our specialist family solicitors.
Director and Solicitor
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