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Helen Moody - Care Order, Looked After Child, Special Guardianship Order, Child Arrangement OrderAs a kinship carer with a Care Order or Looked After Child, it is likely that you took on the care of a child at short notice at a highly stressful time. It is extremely common that carers will require some level of support if they anticipate caring for the child on a permanent basis.

The support available to you will be dependent upon the placement arrangement. You could be caring for a child under a Care Order, Special Guardianship Order or a Child Arrangement Order. Some carers look after children at the insistence of Social Services but where there is no formal Order in place.

It is all dependent on individual cases and circumstances but generally, if you have or have had substantial Social Services involvement with the child, you may be entitled to support for the child and your family. This maybe under a Care Order, or a Special Guardianship Order or a Child Arrangement Order.

 

Care Order/”Looked After” Child

 

If the Local Authority specifically asked you to care for a child where the alternative would be for the child to be placed into foster care, or where the Local Authority hold a Care Order, the child is classed as a “looked after” child. This means that the Local Authority are responsible for that child and have duties towards them.

Family and friends foster carers once approved by panel, are entitled to the same benefits and support as mainstream foster carers. These may include; financial support, emotional and therapeutic input, allocated social workers for the child and carer, respite, training.

Yes. All foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance for the child that they care for. This allowance should meet the national minimum fostering allowances set by the Government.

Yes. Provided that you meet the training criteria of your local Council, you should receive any additional fee payments which your Council offers. You should also receive payments for the child’s birthday, Christmas or religious holiday and a payment for the holidays in summer.

As long as it can be evidenced that Social Services were involved in the placement of the child in your care and have played a major role in making arrangements for the child, you should be entitled to the same support as a family and friends foster carer.

 

Special Guardianship Orders

 

Any support from a Local Authority under a Special Guardianship Order is discretionary. Where a child is a “looked after child” at the time of the application for a Special Guardianship Order, the Local Authority must provide a support plan which details the support they are offering you. There is no duty on a Local Authority to provide a support plan if the child is not “looked after”, however, they have the power to do so if they wish to exercise their discretion.

If there has been no Social Services involvement with the family at any point, you may be entitled to support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, if the child is considered 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 and their 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.

Unfortunately if the child is not classed as a “child in need”, the Local Authority does not have any duties to provide support.

If the child you care for is currently under a Care Order or otherwise classed as a “looked after” child, the Local Authority has a duty to provide a Support Plan which will detail the support available to you under an SGO. Generally, once an SGO is made, Social Services involvement will cease and support services will be very limited. It is therefore vital that you seek legal advice before the Order is granted as to whether this is the most appropriate Order for you and your family. Support is available however because it is discretionary under an SGO, it will generally be must more limited than under a Care Order.

All cases are different but probably the most common type of support is financial support. An SGO allowance is discretionary and means tested on your income. Allowances are then annually reviewed and are not guaranteed to be paid until the child reaches 18 years old unlike under a Care Order. Other areas of discretionary support include emotional and behavioural support, support with contact and

All support is likely to be limited and therefore you should seek legal advice prior to accepting an Order. A Local Authority will usually provide some funding for legal advice for you. You may require an Order which allows for a higher level of regular support.

 

Child Arrangement Order

 

This order perhaps offers the least amount of support. Just like Special Guardianship Orders, support is discretionary however, under a Child Arrangement Order, the Local Authority has no duty to provide a support plan.

If there has been no Social Services involvement with the family at any point, you may be entitled to support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, if the child is considered 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 and their 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.

Unfortunately if the child is not classed as a “child in need”, the Local Authority does not have any duties to provide support.

Support under a Child Arrangement Order is discretionary and financial support is means tested. However, usually, if the Local Authority asked you to care for the child, you should meet their criteria for a financial assessment.

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