Caring for children of family or friends

Carer and child by swing

 

Some children and young people are unable to be brought up by their parents and are cared for by a relative or a friend. Some of these arrangements are informal and some are formal as a result of specific circumstances.

For the formal arrangements the council will provide statutory services based upon the assessed needs of the child.

Informal arrangements

Many parents make informal arrangements with their own parents, aunts, uncles and direct family members to look after their children. These arrangements are part of normal family life where children and young people will go to stay with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends.

The local authority doesn’t have a role in these informal arrangements unless to provide general advice or where children appear to be in need of support or protection.

Family and friends carers can contact the council to for advice and support such as:

  • general advice about supporting a child’s needs
  • a list of play groups, mother and toddler groups, child minders, nurseries

Visit our Things to do page for information on libraries, parks, leisure and events or find your local facilities using our postcode search.

Where family and friends carers have concerns about a child they're caring for, they may contact children's services on 0121 303 1888. This may result in an assessment being carried out to find out if the child needs support or protection.

Formal arrangements

Private fostering

Private fostering is an arrangement when a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled):

  • doesn’t live with their parent or step parent
  • is being cared for by an adult who’s not a close relative (a close relative would be a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt including both full and half relations and relations by marriage),
  • is in a private arrangement made by the parent and the carer
  • is being cared for (fostered) by the carer in a different home for more than 28 days in a row and on a full time basis

In these situations the parent or the foster carer must tell the local authority about their intention to foster the child at least six weeks in advance, or within 48 hours if arrangements are made in an emergency.

If you’re unsure if a child is privately fostered or not please contact us and we’ll help you find out.

Read more about private fostering

Special Guardianship Order

Special Guardianship may be an option for children who need permanent care outside of their birth family. It can provide security without the complete separation from the birth family, as with adoption.

Family and friends can apply for a Special Guardianship Order after caring for the child for one year, or earlier with the consent of all those with parental responsibility. Parental responsibility is still shared with the birth parent(s) but Special Guardians will have greater autonomy on day-to-day matters.

Connected Persons Fostering

When a child becomes looked after by the Local Authority, either voluntarily with the agreement of the parent(s) or as a result of a court order, the Local Authority will consider placing the child in the care of someone who is a family or a friend who already has a relationship with that child.

They would need to become approved as a Connected Person Foster Carer but they would be approved to look after the specific child.

The majority of Connected Persons Carers are grandparents, aunts and uncles, but they could also be older siblings and family friends.

Connected Person Foster Carer approval process

When a child comes in to the care of the Local Authority, we'll talk to the family about connected person fostering. We'll explore with the family if there are suitable family members or friends who could be considered for this role.

To be approved as a Connected Person's Foster Carer, you’ll need to go through our assessment process, including attending preparation training sessions as for all our foster carers.

The Connected Person arrangement must be approved by Birmingham’s Fostering Panel. The fostering panel need to ensure that the connected person has the right skills, abilities and support to provide care for the child.

This process usually takes around 16 weeks and will include the completion of forms, a number of visits to your home and checks with other people and organisations.

  • it's essential that we get to know you and your family and fully consider whether you'll be able to meet all the child's needs
  • it also gives us time identify with you a support plan to meet your needs
  • as a connected person foster carer you're entitled to the same support and post approval training as for all our foster carers