Kinship fostering is an alternative to normal fostering or adoption. It is a legal arrangement where a child who cannot be cared for by their parents, is looked after by a relative, family friend or any other person with a connection to the child.
When a child is at risk of becoming looked after, or has become looked after, Staffordshire’s Families First service is committed to exploring other people who have a close connection to the child before considering placing children with stranger foster carer’s. If a child becomes looked after by a relative or friend, this person becomes the child's kinship foster carer and will be looking after the child on behalf of the local authority.
Prospective kinship foster carer’s will need to be assessed by a social worker from Staffordshire’s kinship team and will then be considered for approval at fostering panel.
If you have come forward to care for a child who is in the care of the local authority, or who could potentially come into care, you are required to undergo an assessment.
If the placement is required in an emergency the assessment process will start with a viability assessment, which is carried out by the child's social worker.If the child is then placed with you in an emergency, you are considered to be a temporary approved kinship foster carer, from the date that the child was placed. Your fostering assessment will begin following placement and needs to be completed within 16 weeks. This type of placement is referred to as a regulation 24 placement (The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010).The full fostering assessment will include:
- The carer being visited at home on a number of occasions by the assessing social worker
- The social worker assessing that the home environment is suitable for the child to live in and that it will meet the needs of the child/ren long term
- DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service previously known as CRB) and other checks including medical checks, Housing and Local Authority checks, personal, ex-partner and employment references
- The pre-existing relationship with the child
- The carer’s capacity to safeguard the child from harm
All kinship foster carer’s will receive support from an allocated fostering social worker, who will undertake, regular home visits and provide practical help and advice as well as emotional support.
Kinship foster carer’s will be required to undertake training to support them in caring for the child and will receive a fostering allowance to support them in caring for the child.
In addition, all kinship foster carer’s are invited to a kinship support group. There are 3 support groups across Staffordshire that specifically cater for kinship carer’s, including kinship carer’s who have secured special guardianship for a child. The groups are based in Cannock, Tamworth and Newcastle under Lyme. Kinship carer’s can also attend general foster carer’s support groups, if they prefer.
How long does kinship foster care last?
Kinship fostering arrangements could last a few weeks or a few years or longer, depending on the parent's situation and the needs of the child.
If a child is to remain living with the kinship foster carer in the long term, the kinship team will advise the carer about other legal orders which they can apply for, if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the child. Other legal orders include special guardianship order, child arrangement order or adoption order. These types of orders support the child and family by providing arrangements that are more secured and permanent.
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