LAC Manual - Part 3 Formal Kinship Care

3.2  Formal Kinship Care

Formal Kinship Care is typically pursued when parental care is no longer an option and as an alternative approved foster care.  

Formal Kinship Care arrangements are those where the Local Authority, Court, Children’s Panel or Police have been involved in making the arrangements and the child is deemed to be “Looked After”. This would include:

  • A child subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order from a Children’s  Hearing requiring that they live away from home
  • A child placed away from home by the local Authority 
  • A child subject to any other legal order that requires then to be looked after away from home.

3.2.1 The Process

The Kinship Care Worker should be advised of all Formal Kinship Care arrangements or proposed arrangements as soon as possible.

A person can apply to be approved as a “Kinship Carer” when they are :

  • related to the child either by blood, marriage or civil partnership; Or
  • known to the child and with whom the child has a pre-existing relationship

In some situations more than one family member will offer to provide Kinship Care.  Some prospective carers may already be known to the Education and Social Care Department resulting in the worker being aware of possible contra indicators that may suggest that a full assessment is not viable. In all cases, the Social Worker must be able to demonstrate the decision making process.

Possible contra indicators include:

  • Recent domestic violence
  • Schedule 1 offences
  • Recent drink / drug concerns
  • Smoking – especially when the child to be placed is very young or has respiratory issues
  • Child care concerns relating to their own children
  • A history of not working with agencies

This list is not exhaustive, and each contra indicator must be considered on an individual basis. In such cases the Social Worker and Senior Social Worker / Team Manager need, at the earliest opportunity, to consider all known factors and identify which assessments they wish to proceed with.

It may also be useful to consider holding a family meeting at this early stage to explore with the family, including the child, if appropriate, who might best be able to provide appropriate care for the child.

Those who have applied to be Kinship Carers, but for whom the assessment is not being taken forward, should be informed of this decision by the Social Worker. The Social Worker should also note the decision within the child’s plan and on CareFirst together with a brief explanation of the reason.

Planned placements (process for application form and checks)

Prior to placement

  • The Social Worker must
    • Interview the prospective carer to establish that they are, in fact, a relative of the child or a person who is known to the child and with whom the child has a pre-existing relationship.
    • Discuss with their Senior Social Worker any known concerns regarding the prospective carer
    • Refer the case to the Kinship Senior Social Worker by sending details of the prospective carer and a current copy of the child’s plan.
    • Undertake a joint visit to the prospective carer with the Kinship worker who will provide information about the process to the family.
  • Kinship Worker must
    • Create the proposed carer as ‘Kinship’ on CareFirst
    • Gathers information about the (proposed) household using the Kinship Application Form,
    • Secure the appropriate evidence and signatures for a PVG check to be carried out on the carers and Enhanced Disclosures on all other  members of the householder over the age of 16
    • Obtains consent to health checks on the proposed carers.
    • Pass the application form, Disclosure Scotland/ PVG  forms and health forms to the Admin Team, Placement Services, (Kinship Care), The Moray Council, High Street, Elgin, for processing
  • The Admin Team, Placement Services, should
    • Arrange for PVG and Enhanced Disclosure checks as above
    • Arrange for a memo, signed by the Team Manager, Placement Services, detailing the outcome of Disclosure Scotland/PVG checks and pass this to the Kinship worker.
    • Request Health checks on the proposed carers,
    • Request  Local Authority checks on the proposed carers 
    • Request  references on the proposed carers
  • Kinship Worker should
    • Record the findings of the Enhanced Disclosure/PVG checks  on CareFirst and in the Kinship Care Assessment
    • Inform the Child’s Social Worker of the outcome of all the checks carried out
    • Along with the social worker, consider holding a family meeting to establish the extended family views and resources eg what additional support will they need to maintain the placement?  If no meeting is held, the reason for this should be explained in the kinship care assessment
    • View the proposed accommodation, including the proposed sleeping arrangements and  records this as part of the kinship care assessment, including their assessment of the suitability of these arrangements
    • Meet with proposed carers to gather background and history and to discuss how they feel able to meet the identified needs of the child, including any training and support needs they may have, and completes the relevant section of the kinship care assessment.
    • Advise the carers to check eligibility of all relevant benefits and inform them of the support available from the Welfare Rights Officer or Citizen’s Advice Bureau regarding benefit claims.
    • Hear and record the child’s views (depending on age and maturity)
    • Hear and record the parental views of the proposed placement
    • Use the child’s plan and jointly agree the child’s needs section of the assessment report
    • Hold joint meetings with the case social worker as required throughout the assessment process.
    • Enable the proposed carers to read and sign the report. The copy of the report given to the carers must have a “Carers Copy” watermark
    • Request a Kinship Panel to consider the recommendation of the report.

In situations where the recommendation is not to approve the prospective carers, they should be offered the opportunity to supply their own written submission to the Kinship Panel.

Kinship Panel

To formally conclude the assessment period a Kinship Panel will be held to consider:

  • the completed assessment report and current Child’s Plan
  • the view of any LAC review with regard to the placement
  • the support and training needs of the carer
  • the financial arrangement between the Kinship Carer and The Moray Council

The Kinship Panel will comprise:

  • Placement Services Team Manager
  • Team Manager/ Senior Social Worker for the child
  • Teacher or health worker (depending on the age of the child) who knows the child
  • Child’s Social Worker
  • Kinship Care Social Worker
  • A lay member from the Moray Fostering and Adoption Panel

A minute taker must be in attendance.

Dates for panel will be set as required by the Social Worker for Kinship Care, and will take place no more than 2 weeks from the end of the assessment.

The rules of confidentiality that apply to the Moray Fostering and and Adoption Panel will also apply to all members of the Kinship Panel.

Written Agreement

Following approval, the Placement Services Team Manager will arrange for the Kinship Carers to be notified, in writing, of the outcome of the meeting.

The Kinship Care Worker will ensure the Kinship Carer Agreement is signed by both the Kinship Carer and the Kinship Care Worker, outlining the roles and responsibilities of each party.

The Kinship Carers will sign two copies; one for their own records and one to be retained on the Kinship Carers file which will be held by the Kinship Care Social Worker.

See more at http://www.moray.gov.uk/moray_standard/page_98207.html

Prior to the placement

A request is made by the Kinship Social Workers for the Kinship Allowance to be paid, by sending a memo to the Senior Social Worker for Kinship Care detailing the amounts payable, how much will be met through benefits and the bank account details into which the money must be paid

Through the LAC reviewing process, confirm the day to day placement agreements and ongoing social work support and make arrangements for the child to move into the placement.

Emergency Placements

Where a child is placed on an emergency basis, before the carers are approved, the social worker must complete the following with 3 days:

  • Undertake local police checks, using the request for information form
  • Check local authority records (CareFirst)
  • Check for any concerns from the family GP (verbal)
  • The outcome of these checks to be recorded on CareFirst.
  • If appropriate, secure the child legally through a Child Protection Order.
  • Interview the prospective carer to establish that they are, in fact, a relative of the child or a person who is known to the child and with whom the child has a pre-existing relationship
  • View the proposed accommodation, including the proposed sleeping arrangements and  records this as part of the kinship care assessment, including their assessment of the suitability of these arrangements
  • Completes the Day to Day Care Plan with parental and carers signatures
  • Arranges a LAC review. Written reports are not required but the social worker must be prepared to provide a verbal update of the circumstances,
  • Considers the need to make a referral to Children’s Reporter

The Senior Social Worker/Team Manager of the child

  • Agrees immediate placement with Kinship Carer.
  • Agrees the immediate needs of the child ie clothes, money and what the council will provide

As soon as practical the Social Worker must:

  • notify the Kinship Care Worker of the placement and
  • update recording

Following the LAC/ Children’s Hearing, if the Kinship Care placement is supported, the Kinship Care Assessment is completed following the normal assessment process and should be completed within 12 weeks of the initial placement.

3.2.2  Kinship Arrangements Not Approved

When a Kinship Care Arrangement has not been approved the social Worker should:

  • if the child is already in placement, and subject to a supervision requirement, call a LAC review and a Children’s Hearing to consider a change of placement,
  • if the child is already in placement and subject to Section 25, call a LAC review to consider a change of placement.

A child will only be moved in an emergency, against the wishes of the Kinship Carer, if there are child protection concerns that merited such an action.

Appeals

• An appeal can be raised only after a decision has been made by the Kinship Panel in respect of the Kinship Care Assessment.

See more at http://www.moray.gov.uk/moray_standard/page_98207.html.

• The appellant(s) are asked to put their appeal in writing, being specific as to the basis of their appeal.

• The appeal should be addressed to the Head of Integrated Children’s Services, The Moray Council, High Street, Elgin, IV30 1BX and should be submitted within 28 of notification.

• The Head of Service will nominate a senior officer to consider the appeal concentrating on whether the assessment and decision making processes have been followed (ie. a proper and thorough assessment has been carried out and a reasonable decision made). The review will normally be restricted to consideration of the written kinship care assessment and the written correspondence from the appellants received in terms of point 2 above.

• Only if the nominated officer has a clear and unequivocal difference of opinion to the opinion of the Kinship Panel regarding the outcome of the assessment and the reasonableness of the decision, will overturning the original decision be considered. This recognises the knowledge, skills and experience of staff directly involved in assessing kinship carers and the difficult judgements that require to be made.

• Appellants also have recourse to the Sheriff Court to seek a Residence Order at any time (ie if they do not accept the kinship decision).

• The nominated officer will write to the appellant(s) regarding the outcome of the appeal and explaining the reasons for the decision. This should be within one month of receipt by the department of the written appeal.

3.2.3  Complaints

Complaints regarding practice should be dealt with via the Council’s normal complaints procedure for Social Work matters.  Contact should be made with the Council’s Corporate Complaints Officer (Tel: 01343 563003) or The Chief Social Work Officer, The Moray Council, High Street, Elgin IV30 1BX.

3.2.4.  Reviewing Children in Formal Kinship Care Arrangements

Children in formal Kinship Care Arrangements are Looked After children and hence are reviewed in the same way as all Looked After Children.

Once a year, the Looked After Child’s Review should include a section on how the Kinship Carers are meeting the child’s needs in relation to the overall child’s plan. The needs of the Kinship Carer for support and practical help in their own right should be included as well as agreeing how the Kinship Carers will work together with the other key people in the child’s life.

The Social Worker for the child will arrange for this section of the plan to be copied to the Kinship Carers file.  

3.2.5.  Review and support of Kinship Carers

There is no formal requirement to review Kinship Carers but the Moray Council must monitor the service provided by a Kinship Carer. To do so, the Kinship Care Worker will contact the Kinship Carer annually to review and confirm financial arrangements and to review support packages to the Kinship Carer.

It is recommended that support and training should be available when needed. In order to achieve this, the Kinship Care Worker will visit the carer/s a minimum of 4 times in the 3 months immediately after approval to ensure that the carer/s has all relevant paperwork, are clear about roles and responsibilities and to consider ongoing support and training needs.  These should be noted in the Kinship Carers file.

Thereafter, the Kinship Worker will be available to be contacted by the carer prior to meetings and reviews, as necessary. The carer or the child’s Social Worker can request the Kinship Worker to attend meetings for advice and support. In addition, any support needs that are identified as part of the Child’s LAC review or by the Child’s Social Worker will be discussed with the Kinship Worker and a plan of support put in place.

In Moray, the Kinship Care Worker is also working towards developing a carer’s support network to provide an opportunity for carers to meet informally and also to identify specific shared training. It is anticipated that much of this will be in collaboration with partner agencies in the third sector.

3.2.6.  Kinship and Permanence

Where the Social Work assessment is that it would not be possible to safely return the child to parental care, consideration should be given to legally securing a long term permanent placement, as with all Looked After Children.

The Social Worker will seek written legal advice (form and process) from the local authority solicitor regarding the legal options in relation to permanence.

The Social Worker will speak with the carers about the legal options and advise them to take independent legal advice.
Where S11 orders are granted then any Supervision requirement is likely to be discharged and the child would cease to be Looked After (S17 Children (Scotland) Act 1995.)

Where s11 orders have been obtained, the finance assigned to that child should be re-designated as Residency Allowance.

Where a Permanence Order is granted the supervision order will be discharged, however the child will remain a Looked After Child (S17 Children (Scotland) Act 1995.)

If a young person is placed with Kinship Carers via the Children’s Hearing on an order and that order is subsequently terminated, and no other order is in place, consideration needs to be given to the terms of the child’s legal status. If professionals and family agree that the order was terminated on the understanding that the Kinship Placement remains in the child’s best interest, then the child could be regarded as accommodated under S25 Children (Scotland) Act 1995) and remain a Looked After child.

3.2.7. Payment for Looked After Children in Kinship Care Placements

1.  All Kinship Carers of Looked After Children are entitled to financial assistance, although they may choose not to receive this depending on personal circumstances.  As of 1st October 2015, children placed with family and / or friends under the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 will be eligible for kinship allowances that reflect those allowances paid for Looked after Children in Foster Care.

2.  Within Moray payments to Kinship Carers of Looked After Children will be made under section 50 of the Children Act 1975.  It is expected that, where applicable, Kinship Carers will apply for child benefit and this sum will be deducted from the allowance they receive for the care of the child.

The weekly allowances (including child benefit) will be: -
Age of Child     Allowance
0 - 4                 £142.85
5 - 10               £162.73
11 - 15             £202.58
16 +                 £246.44

Financial assistance at 16+ is dependent on the child’s legal status and employment or educational status.

3. Carers will receive an additional 4 weeks allowance each year at the applicable rate.  One week payable for the child’s birthday; the second at December and two weeks mid-Summer.

4. These allowances may be subject to change and new levels will be notified to Carers directly and published on the council’s website.

5. Kinship Carers should be advised to seek advice from the Welfare Rights Officer or Citizen’s Advice Bureau regarding any state benefits that they may be entitled to and how any payment from The Moray Council may affect this.  This includes Child Benefit.

6. Payment of kinship allowances will commence when children are placed under the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009.

7. The placing social worker will confirm with the Kinship Care social worker that the basic checks have been made of the carers; that the child is being placed under Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 and that the initial agreement has been signed.  This agreement will be forwarded to Placement Services Team Manager for approval and authorisation.

8. The kinship care worker will confirm the details of payment in writing, sending a copy to the carer and a copy for the carer’s file.

9. Payment will be activated by the Kinship Care Worker forwarding an email to the Admin Team, Placement Services (Kinship Care), with details of the carers, the names and ages of the children, the relevant amount to be paid, and what part of this will be child benefit or other applicable benefit.  Also to be included are details of the carer’s bank account for payments to be made.

10. In situations where the child is removed from the Kinship Carers, or ceases to be Looked after, Kinship care allowance will cease with immediate effect.

11. It is the responsibility of the Child’s Social Worker to inform the kinship worker /Admin Team, Placement Services (Kinship Care), of any change to placement that may impact on allowances to prevent overpayment.

3.2.8.  Kinship Carer Records

The Kinship Worker will be responsible for the creation of Kinship Carers files. These files will contain the following sections:

  • the assessment report and supporting documents (Checks)
  • written agreement
  • a support plan
  • family plan
  • placement details
  • correspondence
  • finance

Files will be retained as per the Councils file retention policy. This is currently 25 years after the end of the placements or on the death of the carer if sooner.

3.2.19  Allegations against Kinship Carers

Kinship Carers and their families may  face allegations. Some research suggests that Kinship Carers experience more unsubstantiated allegations than unrelated carers. While there will be different approaches required for supporting Kinship Carers, there are still basic principles which should be applied to provide support to Kinship Carers when faced with an allegation.

3.2.10  Finance for Young People 16+

Young people remaining Looked After and accommodated, placed with Formal Kinship Carers past their 16th birthday and prior to their 18th birthday will not be entitled to Income Maintenance as the approved Kinship Carer will continue to receive a Kinship Carer Allowance in respect of the young person.  These young people may be entitled to Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) if in education.

Young people who have been formally looked after away from home in Kinship Placement, may not be entitled to an After Care Grant, this is a discretionary grant and not a right.  The After Care Grant is to assist a young person to establish an independent home, and it is necessary that a clear assessment is made to how any funding provided by the local authority to young people is spent.  Applications for After Care Grants are made to the Placement Services Team Manager for consideration and approval.

3.2.11.  Assessment of Kinship Carers as Lodging Providers

Approved Kinship Carers, may apply to be considered as Lodging Providers for a young person, beyond the age of 18.
The Kinship Carer can make an application to be formally assessed as a Lodging Provider for the young person in the months before the young person attains the age of 18. The assessment will be considered for approval by the Placement Services Team Manager.  Support can be provided for the placement of a young person through this scheme for up to two years.  

Lodgings Payments will cover housing costs only and will be paid to the carer. Personal finance for the young person will be accessed through Bursaries, DWP or employment as eligible.

3.2.12  Referral to Throughcare and Aftercare Service

Children in Formal Kinship Care Arrangements are Looked After children and entitled to Through Care and After Care 2 support in the same way as all other Looked After Children who remain so until their 16th birthday or beyond.

Referral to the Through Care and After Care Team will be triggered via the LAC review system but also through the monthly reports to the Through Care and After Care Team pulled from CareFirst. The referral should indicate what the plan is for the young person and whether they are likely to remain in their placement beyond the age of 16.

Where a young person has previously been accommodated with a Formal Kinship Carer, and the Carer has been supported by The Moray Council to secure parental rights and responsibilities under S11 Children (Scotland) Act 1995, the young person may be eligible for an assessment of need for Through Care and After Care Services.

The young person will not be eligible for financial support as they will be eligible for accessing benefits in their own right.

Young People placed with Kinship Carers can remain accommodated with their approved Kinship Carers until they reach 21 years old.  Should their Supervision Requirement be terminated prior to their 18th birthday, they can remain accommodated with their Kinship Carers under Section 67 Children and Young People’s Act 2014.

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2 under Section 29 Children’s Scotland Act 1995.  (Regulations and Guidance on Services for Young People Ceasing to be Looked After by Local Authorities implemented on 1 April 2004 and amended by the Children and Young People’s Act 2014.)

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