Kinship care is when a child who cannot remain with their birth parents is looked after by their extended family or close friends.
Our policy is to always try to support a child to be cared for within their immediate family and community, if possible. This could be either:
- a private care arrangement – when a family independently arranges (without local authority involvement) for a child to be looked after by relatives or friends
- kinship care – when the local authority arrange for a child to be placed with extended family members or someone who has a pre-existing relationship, such as relatives or a family friend
The Scottish Government states that:
'It is the right of every child to have their family and friends explored as potential carers if they need to leave the care of their parents.'
Stirling Council is responsible for ensuring that children are cared for safely. We assess and review potential carers and their home as part of that process.
A social worker will be appointed to see the child regularly and to get their views about their carer and their future plans. The social worker also supports the carer to provide the highest quality of care that they are able to. This may involve helping to arrange financial and/or practical support, advice and guidance.
The social worker will make sure that the child's needs are met and that a plan is developed to enable this. This might involve:
- arranging contact between children and their parent(s) and siblings
- progressing any legal matters
- working with other agencies such as health and education
- working in partnership with the carer to secure the best outcomes for the child
Responsibility of a kinship carer
Providing kinship care requires the carer to have the same key responsibility as any parent, specifically to provide a safe and stable home environment which meets the child's individual needs.
This means ensuring the child attends nursery or school and receives appropriate medical and dental treatment. When a child is living with you, and you are a kinship carer, any other responsibilities will be listed in the child's individual care plan.
How to become a kinship carer
The first step is to get in touch with our Children and Families Intake team. They can talk to you about your circumstances and give you advice based on what is right for you.
You can phone the Intake team on 01786 471 177.
Before placing a child with an extended family member or close friend, we will assess whether this arrangement is suitable and meets the needs of the child.
This assessment would involve:
- visiting the home to interview the proposed carer and to ensure the home is suitable for the child's needs
- undertaking Disclosure Scotland checks on every adult in the caring household
- completing checks of the social care database and the health records of all potential carers
- a financial assessment to ensure the family are receiving all entitlements, and what effect any allowance which the Council will pay will have on the family's income
Placements are reviewed regularly to make sure they continue to meet the child's needs.
Kinship carers are entitled to a kinship care allowance if:
- the child or children have been placed with carers by the local authority
- police checks, health checks and disclosure do not show any reason why the placement may not be suitable
- an assessment, including a financial assessment, has confirmed that the placement is suitable and that carers need financial support to continue looking after the child.
The Intake team will talk to you about how much you are eligible for.
Additional support for children and carers
As well as Stirling Council, advisers at Citizens Advice Scotland can provide detailed advice on kinship care and can access additional specialist advice for complex cases.
You can also call the confidential Kinship Care helpline on 0808 800 0006.