A child who is looked after by the council may live with a relative or friend instead of being placed with foster carers or in residential accommodation, these are known as 'family and friends carers'.
What is Family and Friends Fostering?
When a child becomes looked after by the council, either voluntarily, with the agreement of the parent(s), or as a result of a court order, we have a duty to consider placing the child in the care of someone who is a family or a friend who already has a relationship with that child.
The majority of family and friends carers are grandparents, aunts and uncles, but they could also be older siblings and family friends.
Family and friends carers must be approved foster carers, but they will be approved to look after a specific child or children.
In an emergency, family members may be able to look after a child for a limited time under Regulation 26 of the Fostering Regulations, provided we are satisfied that this arrangement is safe for the child. There is a different assessment for this which looks at whether the arrangements are suitable and safe in the immediate circumstances.
Becoming a Family and Friends Carer
To be approved as a family and friends carer, you will need to go through an assessment process. This process usually takes around 12 weeks and will include the completion of forms, a number of visits to your home and checks with other people and organisations.
This will allow us to get to know you and your family and fully consider whether you will be able to meet all the child's needs as well as offer support that might help you in your role.
Frequently Asked Questions
What will you need to ask me about?
We'll need to ask you about your background and childhood, previous and current relationships/marriage, support networks, experience as a parent and your relationship with the child's family.
You will also need to provide details of your income, and you will be asked to provide references.
What will you want to see when you visit my home?
We will need to look at the accommodation you intend to provide for the child(ren) to make sure that it is suitable.
We will carry out a health and safety check of your home, which will include an assessment of any pets.
Who else will you need to contact?
We'll need to get in touch with your children, your current partner and any significant ex-partners, personal references and possibly some other family members. We'll also need to contact your employer.
If you have children living with you, we'll need to contact their school, health visitor and / or any professional involved with them.
What other checks will you need to do?
Everyone in your household aged 16 and over will have to have an enhanced disclosure and barring service check which checks for criminal convictions.
You will be asked to complete a fostering medical examination with your GP.
Will I get any financial support?
Family and friends carers could be eligible to receive a weekly allowance to cover the everyday and regular expenses associated with caring for a foster child such as food, clothing, transport, leisure activities and pocket money.
This depends on the type of arrangement which has resulted in the child being in your care. The exact amount depends on the age of the child. The allowance is paid into your bank account fortnightly, a week in advance and a week in arrears.
We will discuss individual arrangements for financial support with you in more detail during the assessment process.
What support will you get from us?
During the assessment period you will be offered a bite size training session facilitated by the family and friends team. The main purpose of this course is to explain more about your role as a foster carer, including legal information, working with the council and how you will support the child(ren) you will be caring for.
Once you are approved, you will be expected to attend other training courses, some of which are aimed at all the council's foster carers and some which are specifically for family and friends carers.
You will also have the opportunity to attend support groups and meet other carers in similar positions.
You will have the support of a dedicated social worker from the Family and Friends team who will visit you on a regular basis. This is in addition to the child(ren)'s social worker, who will be able to discuss the child's support needs with you and work out what support may be needed.
Children in Wales has produced a Kinship Care Guide which has a lot of useful guidance for family and friends carers.
If you have any queries, worries or concerns, please contact the family and friends team on 01633 235317 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also contact the child(ren)'s social worker.