Friends Family and Connected Person Carers Policy
If a child cannot live with their own parent they may be looked after by a family member or close friend.
This can be done under different arrangements:
Private Arrangement: This is when a child under the age of 16 (18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent. This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer for 28 days or more.
A Child Arrangement Order: An order granted by the Court that gives the holder parental responsibility for a child, although they share this with anyone else who has parental responsibility.
A Special Guardianship Order: Special Guardianship is a formal court order which gives the hold of the order parental responsibility. Although the holder does not have 100% of the parental responsibility they can exercise their responsibility without the agreement of anyone else who may have parental responsibility.
A relative or close friend who cares for a child under a fostering agreement. Gateshead Council's term for this is a 'Connected Carer'.
Assessment of a 'Connected Person'
A Court may make a child subject to an 'Interim Care Order' or a 'Care Order' and therefore they will be looked after by the Local Authority. A child is also looked after when they are being voluntarily accommodated by the Local Authority with the parents agreement. If the Local Authority has placed a child with you as a family member or close friend then you will be required to undertake a 'Connected Person' assessment. This assessment will look at your ability to meet the child's need now and in the future.
The assessment should take 16 weeks to complete and will include discussing your experience of being parented, your family history, experience for caring for children and your family relationships. Within the assessment other family members will be spoken to and you will be asked to identify at least two referees. If you have school age children we would also wish to speak to their school.
As part of the assessment you will be asked to complete a full Police Enhanced Disclosure (DBS) which will require you to provide information of any previous conviction or convictions. You will need specific forms of I.D. for this including passport, drivers licence, marriage and birth certificate and recent proof of address.
We will also carry out Local Authority checks and you will asked to provide a list of previous addresses.
Once the assessment is complete you will have the chance to read and agree it. This will then be presented at our fostering panel where they will make a recommendation to our agency decision maker about your approval as a connected carer for the child. The agency decision maker will then ratify the approval. You will be invited to the panel.
What Happens Next
If you are approved by the fostering panel as a Connected Carer for the child then you will be required to undertake ongoing training as part of your role. This involves attending approximately 6 mandatory training sessions per year as well as support groups. You will have your own link worker in the fostering team who will visit each month and liaise with the child's social worker.
Your approval is reviewed annually.
Approved connected foster carers do not always remain under this status. This very much depends on the child's plan. If a young child's plan is to remain with you for a longer period then a Child Arrangement Order (C.A.D.) or Special Guardianship Order (S.G.O.) may be looked at. If one of these orders is made then you will be de-registered as a connected foster care and supported in a different way.
Connected foster carers receive a weekly allowance. This can be paid straight into your bank and the amount depends on the age of the child. You will be expected to use the allowance to feed and clothe the child. A percentage is then used towards household running costs and additional activities.
If you are caring for a child that has been placed with you under a C.A.D. or S.G.O. then you may receive an allowance. This is usually means tested after financial assessment of your income and outgoings.
There are cases where an allowance may not be paid. This could be when a private arrangement has been made without involvement from the Local Authority. Also if a family member has applied for a Child Arrangement Order or Special Guardianship Order following a private arrangement the Local Authority are not obliged to look at financial support. The Local Authority could pay an allowance if the childs needs require assessing and services become involved.
There are circumstances such as criminal history, health issues and child protection concerns that may preclude a family member or friend from caring for a child or becoming a Connected Foster Carer. These will be looked at and discussed individually.
Gateshead currently offer a connected foster carers support group which meets three times per year.
Gateshead also has links with Grandparents Plus who offer advice and support to Kinship Carers in the region.
Grandparents plus currently offer the Relatives Experience Project and can support carers through their befriending service and local support groups.
Friends Family and Connected Person Carers Policy
The policy below outlines the assessment, planning and decision making process as well as the support services, which may be available from the Local Authority, partner agencies such as health and housing, and voluntary agencies.