Are family or friends a viable alternative to fostering, in Care Proceedings?
When your child is the subject of care proceedings the Local Authority must consider whether there is anyone in your wider family network that would be able to look after your child if the court decides you are not able to do so anymore. This is known as kinship foster care.
What is Kinship Foster Care?
Kinship Care is when the child goes to live with and is cared for by a family member or friend. This is preferred because the child is likely to already have a relationship with the carer and it ensures the child remains within their family network.
The local authority will conduct an assessment known as a viability assessment. This will analyse and assess whether a person is viable to provide care for the child. If this assessment is positive and approved by the local authority’s internal fostering panel, the carer will become the child’s kinship foster carer.
What does a viability assessment involve?
The assessment is a one-off visit to the prospective carers home to determine whether that person can provide full time care and meet the needs of the child. It will look at a range of factors including:
- Health and any disabilities
- Family background
- The relationship with the child, and its parents
- Inspection of the home and whether there is a bedroom for the child
- Parenting experience
- Their availability and how they would manage contact with the child’s parents
- Any past criminal convictions
What happens if the assessment is positive?
If the assessment is positive, the report is sent to the fostering panel who make a final decision on the placement. If it is decided that the carers are suitable, the Local Authority will often fund an appointment with a solicitor so the carer can obtain legal advice in respect of possible court orders that may secure the child’s placement and possibly grant the carers shared parental responsibility for the child if this is necessary.
However, if the assessment is negative and shows that they will not be suitable kinship carers, they will be notified of this. The assessment will fail if there are concerns that mean the child would not be provided with the good enough care and emotional support. There is a timescale of 7-10 days which allows the outcome to be challenged by the prospective carers.
Does this mean the carers will have parental responsibility for my child?
If someone becomes a kinship foster carer to your child, this does not mean they will have parental responsibility for your child. The child is known as ‘looked after’ by the local authority and cared for by the kinship foster carer.
Is this permanent?
If the placement is long term and a court order is made the child is unlikely to return to their parents’ care, unless there have been significant changes which mean the court will consider discharging the order in place. The local authority may invite the kinship foster to apply for a court order that would give the carer parental responsibility such as, a Special Guardianship Order or a Child Arrangement Order. A final care order allows the local authority to share enhanced parental responsibility with parents, it does not remove the parent’s parental responsibility.
At Mander Cruickshank Solicitors, we represent parents throughout care proceedings and can offer advice to prospective kinship carers.
We can be contacted on 01530 510666 or on email@example.com