Children unable to live with their parents are often looked after by other family members and friends. Most of the time families caring for children in this way do not need any support from us. However, sometimes our Children and Families Service may assist and support a child or young person living with a family member or with a family friend.

Informal parental arrangements with family & friends

This is when a close relative makes an agreement with the child’s parent to take on the care of the child. Though the close relative is looking after the child, the parent remains responsible for them.

A close relative is a brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, (by blood/half blood or marriage/civil partnership) or a step-parent.

Private fostering arrangements

This is where a child is under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) and is cared for by someone who is not their parent and not a close relative, for 28 days or more.

We must be told about these arrangements because they are responsible for ensuring the welfare of that child.

Family & friends foster care

This is where a child is ‘in care’ and looked after by us. In these cases the family and friends' carers are assessed and approved as foster carers to look after the child.

There are also other legal arrangements for a child to stay living with family and friends' carers:

Residence Order

This is where the courts decide where a child will live. The carers share responsibility with the parents for that child.

Special Guardianship Order

This is where the court appoints a guardian for a child, that guardian then has responsibility for the day to day decisions affecting the child, though the birth parents remain the child’s legal parents.

Adoption Order

Adoption is a life-long legal arrangement where responsibility for the child transfers from birth parents to the adopting parents.

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