Kinship care is when a child is looked after by their extended family or close friends if they cannot remain with their birth parents.
Under the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009, a kinship carer is defined as "a person who is related to the child (through blood, marriage or civil partnership) or a person with whom the child has a pre-existing relationship".
Kinship care includes both:
- looked after children who have been placed with kinship carers by the local authority
- non-looked after children who live in an informal kinship care arrangement (these children may be subject to an order under Section 11 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 or may be living in a completely private arrangement with extended family, with no local authority involvement)
Fife Council values and respects the unique role played by Kinship Carers and children in this arrangement and recognises that they can have better outcomes than alternative care settings. Often children experience less disruption in their life, they do better in education, have a stronger sense of identity and more meaningful contact with parents and other family members.
Becoming A Kinship Carer
In many instances’ Kinship Carers are people already supporting the child or their family and have some knowledge about the child’s changing circumstances. If alternative care is being considered for a child, the social worker will work in partnership with birth parents and the child to identify suitable adults who may provide care.
If you would like to be considered as a Kinship Carer, it is helpful that you first make the child’s parents aware, however in all instances you should inform the child’s social worker directly.
In some circumstances, an Initial assessment will be undertaken to determine the suitability of the kinship carers. If the child is to remain in placement a more comprehensive assessment will be undertaken by a member of the Kinship Team.
In Formal Kinship Care arrangements, the Local Authority has a legal responsibility and duty to assess the suitability of Kinship Carers. This assessment is ongoing from the point of your initial contact with the professionals and will consider your involvement in the child’s life from birth.
The kinship assessment process can take up to 12 weeks. Each assessment will explore the strengths and vulnerabilities and support needs of the of the Kinship Carer/s and family.
What is involved in the assessment?
- A kinship worker will be allocated to undertake the assessment and organise a series of meetings with the kinship carers. This will build a profile of the adult and conversations will involve sharing personal information.
- Building up a clear understanding of the kinship carers role in the child’s life and their ability to meet their day-to-day and long-term needs.
- Determining the kinship carers personal support network and who can provide support in caring for the child.
- Exploring relationships and lifestyle of people living in the same house as the child
Depending on their circumstances and that of the child and kinship carer, you may be entitled to financial support. Kinship carers of 'looked after children' may be eligible to claim Child Benefit but are not entitled to claim Child Tax Credits for the child.
When a child is placed with kinship carers, the kinship worker should check to see if the carer is eligible for financial support. If they meet the criteria, they will be referred for a financial assessment.
Kinship Carers will not always receive a Kinship Allowance; however, the same eligibility criteria and calculations are applied in all cases.
There are three types of financial support which may be available for eligible kinship carers:
- LAC Kinship Allowance– where children have been placed with kinship carers through a Children’s Hearing, or with a S25 agreement, their carer may be eligible to receive a weekly payment towards their care.
- Non LAC Kinship Allowance – where children are living with kinship carers who have been awarded a Residence order or Kinship Care order, their carer may be eligible to receive a weekly payment towards their care.
- Support for Family Carers Allowance – where children have been placed in a kinship arrangement, by social work, but are not subject to any legal order (eg Residence Order, Children’s Hearing Order). The kinship carer may be eligible to receive a weekly payment towards the child’s care.
- If a kinship carer is in receipt of any child-related benefits, then the local authority may deduct these from the amount of allowance that it pays to the kinship carer.
If the kinship carer is resident in Scotland, responsible for a child under 6 and in receipt of one of the following low-income qualifying benefits they may be eligible for Scottish Child Payment/Best Start Grant/Best Start Foods:
- Child Tax Credit
- Universal Credit
- Income Support
- Pension Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Housing Benefit (Best Start Grant/Best Start Foods only)
The Scottish Child Payment is a new benefit introduced by the Scottish Government to for families in receipt of reserved benefits. The Payment will pay £10 per week per child every four weeks.
Kinship support groups
Fife Council offers support, information and advice to kinship carers, so they are better equipped to meet the needs of the children and young people in their care.
We are happy to discuss all aspects of being a kinship carer including the role and identity of a kinship carer; employment and financial concerns (see below for more information); child care; challenging behaviour; housing issues; health concerns and isolation and anything else anyone wants to talk about.
We provide support for attending meetings, and providing advice and guidance about supporting the child. We can also liaise with services who may be able to help, such as housing, health, and education and help to access other groups in the community.
Kinship care groups provide a safe space for kinship carers to discuss issues affecting them with other carers in their local areas. They can share experiences and seek advice and support from others in a similar situation.
Groups are currently meeting in:
- North East Fife
Please contact Fife Kinship Team for information of times and venues of current groups running in your area.
By phone; 01592 583554
By email; Kinship.firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook; Fife Kinship Care
Further information can be found using the links below -
https://inourplace.co.uk/ - Access code TARTAN (Solihull Parenting Strategy)