Thousands of people across the country care for children because their natural (birth) parents are unable to do so. When a child can't be looked after by a parent, they should be brought up by their own families and in their own communities where possible. The Scottish Government state 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.
Our policy is to always try to support a child to be cared for within their immediate family, if possible.
- A private care arrangement relates to instances when a family independently arrange (without Local Authority involvement) for a child to be looked after by relatives or friends
- Kinship care refers to 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
As a corporate parent, the Local Authority is responsible for ensuring that children are cared for safely. Assessing and reviewing potential carers and their home is part of the process.
Social Workers have the responsibility to see children regularly and to get their views about their carer and their future plans.
A child's 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.
A child's Social Worker is responsible for making sure that the child's needs are met and this is written down in a care plan. This might involve:
- arranging contact between children and their parent(s) and/or siblings
- progressing any legal matters
- working with other agencies such as Health and Education and
- working in partnership with the carer to secure the best outcomes for the child
Responsibilities of a kinship carer
Providing kinship care requires the carer to have the same main responsibility as any parent, specifically to provide a safe and stable home environment which meets the child's individual needs.
Responsibilities include 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.
Applying to become a kinship carer
We would suggest that you contact the Intake team on telephone 01786 471177 to arrange a meeting to discuss the process of becoming a Kinship carer.
Before placing a child with an extended family member or close friend, we would have to assess if 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
- undertake Disclosure Scotland checks on every adult in the caring household
- completing checks of social care database and the health records of all potential carers
- a financial assessment will also be carried out 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, providing that:
- 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 and
- an assessment, including a financial assessment, have confirmed that the placement is suitable and that carers need financial support in order to continue looking after the child
Support for Kinship care children and carers
Advisers at every Scottish CAB can provide detailed advice on kinship care and can access additional specialist advice for complex cases.
If you can’t get to your local CAB, get on the phone. You can call the confidential Kinship Care Helpline, Monday to Friday, 9 am - 5 pm on 0808 800 0006. Calls are free from landlines and most mobiles. Outside of operating times, please leave your contact details and a short message and you will be contacted within 24 hours, Monday to Friday.