Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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6.2.14 Friends, Family and Connected Persons Policy

Please also see the separate procedure regarding the placement of looked after children with Placements with Family and Friends / Connected Persons.

RELATED GUIDANCE

Children Act 1989: Family and Friends Care: Statutory guidance for local authorities about family and friends providing care for children who cannot live with their parents

Family Rights Group, Initial Family and Friends Care Assessment: A good practice guide outlines what a viability assessment for family and friend carers should look like, what social workers should consider and how to undertake international assessments.

AMENDMENT

In July 2017 links to Related Guidance were added to this chapter (above).


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Values and Principles
  3. Legal Framework and Different situations whereby children may be living with family and friends
  4. What a connected person can expect if applying to look after a child who is connected with them but is not their birth child
  5. Provision of Support by the Trust Connected Carers
  6. What is expected of a connected person who is agreeing to look after a child who is connected with them but is not their birth child
  7. Family Group Conferences
  8. Complaints Procedure

    Appendix 1: Legal Framework and different situations whereby children may be living with family and friends carers

    Appendix 2: Useful organisations and information for friends, family and connected carers


1. Introduction

Sometimes a child or young person cannot live at home with a parent either temporarily or permanently in a variety of circumstances. Adult friends, family members and other connected people including professionals and God Parents, can put themselves forward to care for them.

Depending on the type of arrangement made by the parents or the Local Authority and the legal status of the arrangement there are different statutory requirements placed on those involved.

This policy sets out these requirements and covers the assessments which will be carried out by Slough Children’s Services Trust to determine the suitability of prospective carers, the needs of the children and services which will support both the children and carers.

In drawing up this policy, we have consulted with our existing family, friends and connected persons' carers (consultation period 30th September 2011 to 14th October 2011)

This policy will be regularly reviewed, and made freely and widely available through the Slough Children’s Services Trust website.

For the purposes of this policy, all family, friends and connected persons will be known as connected persons.


2. Values and Principles

Children's safety, welfare, best interests and views will always be at the centre of the work we do.

It is an underlying principle that children should be enabled to live safely within their families whenever possible. We will therefore work closely with parents to maintain children within their own families, and facilitate services to support any such arrangements, wherever this is consistent with the child's safety and well-being. This principle applies to all children in need, including those who are Looked After by the Trust.

All local authorities have a general duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of Children in Need living within their area and to promote the upbringing of such children by their families. The way in which they fulfil this duty is by providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children's assessed needs (Section 17, Children Act 1989).

Where a child cannot live within his or her parent(s) whether temporarily or permanently the Local Authority will make strenuous efforts to identify potential carers within the child's network of family or friends or connected people who are able and willing to care for the child and provide them with a happy home life.

Children will not remain Looked After for longer than necessary. Parallel planning to consider who else they might live with until they are grown up will be considered at the same time as parents are assessed and helped to make changes so their children can go home.

If connected people want to be considered as a potential long term family for a child than they should apply as early as possible and not delay things for the child by leaving it very late to apply. If they are assessed as able to provide a safe and happy home for the child then they will be expected to apply for an order which will give them parental responsibility for the child


3. Legal Framework and different situations whereby children may be living with family and friends carers

Appendix 1: Legal Framework and different situations whereby children may be living with family and friends carers sets out the Trusts powers and responsibilities in relation to the various arrangements under which children might live with someone other than their parent.


4. What a connected person can expect if applying to look after a child who is connected with them but is not their birth child

To allow you to care for a Looked After Child, relatives, friends or other persons who are connected with the child must be temporarily approved as foster carers under the Care Planning Regulations 2010 (see Regulation 24 Placements Procedure) to allow an immediate placement. The Local Authority must be satisfied that any placement is the most suitable one available to safeguard and promote the child's welfare, until the full assessment for approval by the fostering panel can be completed under the 2011 Fostering Regulations.

A referral should be made to the FPS for initial joint viability assessment to be undertaken by the child's Social Worker and a worker from the Family Placement Service will be presented at the first possible date to the Slough Placement Panel, for approval of this emergency placement. The connected person will then be assesses as a family and friends foster carer within 16 weeks of the child being placed under Regulation 27 of the fostering Regulations. This timeframe can be extended by the fostering panel for a further 8 weeks under Regulation 25 of the 2010 care planning Regulations.

A member of the FPS will be allocated to complete a full fostering assessment and present this to the Fostering Panel. During this time the assessor will also be supporting the foster carer as a SSW role. A placement planning meeting should be held within 7 days of the child being paced with delegated authority being agreed.

The panel makes recommendations about whether to approve the prospective foster carers and these will be considered by the Agency Decision Maker who decides whether to approve the foster placement

Whist the connected person is being assessed as a foster parent for the child, the parent will be having contact with the child which is often supervised. The parents will also be receiving services which are part of the assessment of their ability to have their child back home. Once these assessments are completed the child might return home, however sometimes the child cannot go home to live and needs a permanent home.

Where a child needs a permanent home and could remain with their connected person for the duration of their childhood the connected person who is at that time a foster carer for the Local Authority, can apply to the court for one of three orders to give them Parental Responsibility and thereby take them out of the care of the LA. The orders are Child Arrangements Order, Special Guardianship Order, and Adoption Order. All these orders require further assessment reports to be completed by the Trust for the court to consider. Adoption applications have to be considered by the Adoption panel prior to the court hearing.


5. Provision of Support by the Trust Connected Carers

  1. As a foster carer
    • A support plan will be drawn up alongside the assessment of the carer to become a foster parent;
    • Foster carers have an allocated link supervising Social Worker from the Fostering Service who will visit regularly to support them;
    • As a foster parent the connected person(s) will be invited to attend family and friend foster carers / SGO training and other foster carer trainings and conferences facilitated by the Placements Service;
    • As a foster parent the connected person(s) will be invited to attend foster carer support group and coffee mornings facilitated by the Placement Service;
    • A fostering allowance is payable for the child from the date the child is placed see financial rates (see Foster Carer Allowances Policy - to follow).
  2. As a connected person with parental responsibility through CAO, SGO or Adoption
    • A support plan will be drawn up alongside the assessment of the carer for the permanent care of the child;
    • A CAO, SGO or Adoption allowance may be payable for the child subject to criteria and means testing see financial rates (see Foster Carer Allowances Policy - to follow);
    • Telephone support and advice from the Family Placement Service on matters such as contact, and signposting to other services if appropriate;
    • Training.

Other support

A working party of Kinship carers has been set up on 4.11.16 to look at ways we can work together to develop the services for Kinship families and listen to their views.

Family Rights Group for information, support and advice.

Grandparents First- for information, support and advice.


6. What is expected of a connected person who is agreeing to look after a child who is connected with them but is not their birth child

  • Carers are expected to attend training offered by the FP Service;
  • Work in partnership with family members and the FPS and the Child's Social Work team to help agree and implement the plan for the child;
  • Attend the child's Statutory Review meetings, completing the consultation prior to the meeting, and working with the child's Reviewing Officer (see Looked After Review Procedures;
  • Encourage the child to feel relaxed, happy and at home in their care;
  • Allow the child to express their feelings and talk about their experiences even if this is difficult for the carer to hear;
  • Facilitate their attendance at school, providing transport if necessary and responding to school issues as any parent would do;
  • Attend Personal Education planning meetings (PEPS);
  • Ensure that the child attends Initial and Review Statutory Health Assessments (IHA and RHA) (See Health Care Assessments and Plans Procedure);
  • Be available for home visits by the carers link supervising Social Worker and the child's Social Worker;
  • Promote and advocate for the child's wishes and feelings;
  • Promote the child's safe contact with friends and family.

Supporting contact with birth parents

SCST is under a duty to promote contact with paternal and maternal family members for all Children who are Looked After. Connected carers will therefore need to be willing to help facilitate contact as agreed with the Trust. This may include transporting children to or from contact and /or supervising contact depending on the circumstances. In any event the child is likely to need you to be supporting the child emotionally with the contact which can sometimes be difficult for all concerned.

Where the child is not Looked After. Advice and Information will be made available to connected person(s) carers about local contact centres and family mediation services, and how to make use of these services.


7. Family Group Conferences

Family Group Conferences are meetings held between professionals and wider family members, which aim to agree a plan which will achieve the best outcomes for children. They promote the involvement of the wider family to achieve a resolution of difficulties for Children in Need, and may help to identify short-term and/or permanent solutions for children within the family, friends or connected persons network.

If you are interested in being considered for the care of a young person where there is a Family Group Conference please let the FGC organiser.

We will offer a Family Group Conference or other form of family meeting at an early stage. (Please also see the Family Group Conferences Procedure).


8. Complaints Procedure

Where a connected person(s) carer is not satisfied with the level of support provided to enable them to care for the child, then they have access to Slough Children's Services Trust complaints process. Our aim would be to resolve any such dissatisfaction without the need for a formal investigation but where an informal resolution is not possible, then a formal investigation will be arranged.

The timescales and process are set out in the Complaints Procedure.


Appendix 1: Legal Framework and different situations whereby children may be living with family and friends carers

Click here to view Appendix 1: Legal Framework Table.


Appendix 2: Useful organisations and information for friends, family and connected carers

Action for Prisoners' and Offenders’ Families Merged with Family Lives in 2014, and supports families who have been affected by imprisonment. Works to reduce the negative impact of imprisonment on prisoners' families. Produces publications, resources, advice and information. They also provide a newsletter which can be subscribed to. National Offenders’ Families Helpline: 0808 808 2003 (http://www.familylives.org.uk/about/our-services/action-for-prisoners-and-offenders-families/).

Addaction Offers a range of support developed for young people and families affected by substance misuse or mental health concerns. www.addaction.org.uk Address: 67-69 Cowcross Street London EC1M 6PU Tel. 020 7251 5860 Email: info@addaction.org.uk.

Adfam works with families affected by drugs and alcohol, and supports carers of children whose parents have drug and alcohol problems. Address: 2nd Floor, 120 Cromer Street, London, WC1H8BS  Tel: 020 3817 9410 Email: admin@adfam.org.uk.  

Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) Offers free independent advice and information for parents and carers on a range of state education and schooling issues, including admissions, exclusion, attendance, special educational needs and bullying. ACE Education Postal Address: ACE Education Advice and Training. 72 Durnsford Road, London, N11 2EJ General advice line: 0300 0115 142 Opening Hours Monday – Wednesday from 10am - 1pm during term-time only.

Citizens Advice Bureau Helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, independent and confidential advice through local bureau and website.

Coram Children’s Legal Centre: provides direct support and free legal advice and representation to children, young people, their families, carers and professionals. Registered Office: 41 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N1AZ Tel: 020 7520 0300

CoramBAAF Adoption and Fostering Academy Organisation which supports the agencies and professionals who work with improving outcomes for children and young people in care. Provides information and advice about adoption and fostering and publishes resources aimed at both professionals and carers. (www.corambaaf.org.uk). Registered Office: 41 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N1AZ Tel: 020 7520 0300.

CoramVoice enables children and young people to hold to account the agencies responsible for their care. www.coramvoice.org.uk. Provide a helpline: 0808 800 5792. Email: info@coramvoice.org.uk Head Office: Coram Voice, Gregory House, Coram Campus, 49 Mecklenburgh Square, London WC1N 2QA.

Department for Education Lists details of telephone help lines and online services to provide information, advice and support on a range of issues that parents and families may face in bringing up children and young people.

Family Fund Trust Helps families with severely disabled or seriously ill children to have choices and the opportunity to enjoy ordinary life. Gives grants for things that make life easier and more enjoyable for the disabled child and their family. Address: 4 Alpha Court Monks Cross Drive York YO32 9WN. Tel: 01904 621 116. Email: info@familyfund.org.uk.

Family Rights Group (FGR) Provides advice to parents and other family members whose children are involved with or require children's social care services because of welfare needs or concerns. Publishes resources, helps to develop support groups for family and friends carers, provides advocacy and campaign for families to have a voice. Also have a free confidential advice helpline which is available Monday – Friday 9.30-3pm.  Address: Second Floor The Print House 18 Ashwin Street London E8 3DL Tel: 020 7923 2628 Advice line: 0800 801 0366.

The Fostering Network Supports foster carers and anyone with an interest in fostering to improve the lives of children in care. Publishes resources and runs Fosterline, a confidential advice line for foster carers including concerns about a child's future, allegations and complaints, legislation and financial matters. Address: 87 Blackfriars Road London SE1 8HA. Email: info@fostering.net. Tel: 020 7620 6400 Fosterline (UK): 0345 013 5004 Grandparents Plus Champions the role of grandparents and the wider family in children's lives, especially when they take on the caring role in difficult family circumstances. Address: Grandparents Plus 18 Victoria Park Square Bethnal Green London E2 9PF Tel: 020 8981 8001 Email: info@grandparentsplus.org.uk.

National Family Mediation (NFM) Provides mediation services to support families in conflict, including couples who are separated, their children and others affected by this. 1st Floor, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter, EX1 1JN  0300 4000 636.

Mentor UK Promotes the health and wellbeing of children and young people to reduce the damage that drugs can do to lives. Includes building the resilience of young people and helping to develop life skills. Address: 49-51 East Road, London, N1 6AH Tel: 020 7553 9920 Email: admin@mentoruk.org.uk.

Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) Provides practical and emotional support to prisoners and to their children and families. Also support ex-offenders and offer courses for prisoners and their families. Address: 29 Peckham Road, London, SE5 8UA  Telephone: 020 7735 9535.

Parents Against Drug Abuse (PADA) Delivers support and services to the families and friends of substance users, including offering a helpline. Offer respite to grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren due to their son/daughters misuse of drugs. Address: Ellergreen Community Centre, Ellergreen Road, Liverpool, Merseyside, L11 2KY  Phone: 0151 270 2108  Helpline: 08457 023867.

Talk to Frank The government's national drugs helpline which offers free confidential drugs information and advice 24 hours a day. Information and advice is also available via the website. 24 hour advice line: 0300 123 6600 Text: 82111 Email: frank@talktofrank.com.

Young Minds Works to improve the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people and empowering their parents and carers. Address: Suite 11, Baden Place, Crosby Row, London, SE1 1YW, Tel: 0207 089 5050 Email: ymenquiries@youngminds.org.uk.

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