Often, the most common reason for placement breakdown is a lack of support. Kinship carers are often caring for very damaged or disabled children who require a high level of support from their Local Authority. Unfortunately, when this is not provided, kinship care breakdown is common.
If you are caring for a family member under a Special Guardianship Order, it is important that you seek legal advice about the implications of a breakdown on the child and what if any, entitlement you have for support and what, if any continuing rights you have for that child if they are removed from your care.
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Frequently Asked Questions
A breakdown can occur when a carer who looks after a child, considers that they are no longer able to care for the child.
The most common reason for a breakdown in a placement is lack of support.
It may be that the child is or should be classed as a ‘Child in Need’. This is defined under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 as a child who is;
“unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him of services by a local authority or his health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for him of such services; or he is disabled”.
Section 17 also states that the Local Authority has a duty to;
“safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need; and so far as is consistent with that duty, to promote the upbringing of such children by their families, by providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children’s needs”.
On request, Local Authorities must carry out assessments of the child/ren and they family including the carers to find out what support is required to assist the family. The Local Authority may be challenged if they are failing to provide support services for children in need and their families.
You should inform the Local Authority that you feel unable to care for the child any longer and request that they find alternative accommodation for them.
The Local Authority should go to Court to make decisions on the long term planning for the child.
The Local Authority can be challenged about this. The Court does not legally have to issue proceedings themselves however, this is best practice and there is recent case law which criticises Local Authorities for not doing so and therefore it can be challenged.
If you have parental responsibility for the child, through a Child Arrangement or Special Guardianship Order, you are entitled to non-means and non-merits tested legal aid in care proceedings. If you do not have parental responsibility, legal aid is available but it will be means and merits tested.
Once the child is made subject to a Care Order, the Local Authority will share parental responsibility with you. The Local Authority will hold LAC reviews to discuss planning for the child which you will be invited to. As part of the Court proceedings, you will get the chance to have your say in relation to the final decisions made for the children, including any arrangements for contact.
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