Myself, along with my Farleys’ family department colleagues, receive lots of enquiries from grandparents, aunts, uncles, best friends etc who have been approached by Social Services to care for a family member’s child – I’ll call him Little Joey for ease.
What has often happened is that social services have become involved with that child and social services have assessed that the child cannot remain in the care of the parent, for whatever reason. So they call you, reliable grandma or aunt (or whomever) asking if you could care for Little Joey whilst they do further work with the family to see if Little Joey can go back home.
Weeks or months later, Little Joey is still living with the grandma/ aunt etc. the social worker has decided Little Joey cannot go back home and suggest that you apply to court for an order that Little Joey lives with you.
The options available for you in respect of that order could fill another blog, and I’ll cover that another day.
The problem that families in this situation face is that the person caring for Little Joey has had no financial support whatsoever. Often the parent continues to claim child benefit and tax credits. The carer has to obtain additional bedroom furniture, clothes and food to care for Little Joey – all out of their own pocket.
This is where the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has publicised a decision to remind local authorities, such as social services, what their duty is regarding financial support for these family carers. If it had not been for this person agreeing to care for Little Joey, then Little Joey would have been cared for by a Local Authority approved foster carer who gets paid for caring for Little Joey. The Ombudsman has reminded local authorities that the extended family members or close friends who step up to the mark to care for Little Joey are no different in law. They are entitled to be assessed as soon as they agree to care for Little Joey to establish if they should be paid an allowance to assist them in caring for Little Joey.
So if you find yourself in this situation, make sure you are receiving what you are legally entitled to. If you are not sure, then contact us at Farleys for further advice on 0845 287 0939 or email us today.