Renfrewshire Council

Kinship Care

What kinship care is, assessment of kinship carers, the responsibilities of kinship carers and the local authority, kinship allowance.

What kinship care is

When a child can't be looked after by a parent, they should be brought up by their own families and in their own communities where possible. 

This could mean being brought up by a grandparent, an older sibling, an aunt or uncle, or a close family friend.

In their document 'Getting it Right for Every Child in Kinship and Foster Care', the Scottish Government state:

"It is the right of every child to have their family and friends explored as potential carers if they need to leave the care of their parents."

Our policy is to always arrange for a child to be cared for within their immediate family, if possible, as this is almost always preferable to placing a child with foster carers who are strangers or accommodating them in a residential children's unit. Children, parents and families agree with this.

When a child is placed with extended family members or a close family friend by the local authority, this is known as kinship care.

If families make their own, independent arrangements for a child to be looked after by relatives or friends and the local authority have not been involved in the process, this is known as a private care arrangement.

Free support and advice is available to Kinship Carers via local voluntary organisation Renfrewshire Carers Centre.

Assessment of Kinship Carers

Before the local authority can place a child with an extended family member or a family friend, they have to assess if this placement meets the needs of that child.

This assessment will usually be completed by a social worker, who will:

  • undertake Disclosure Scotland checks for every adult in the caring household
  • complete checks of social work database systems and the health records of all potential carers, and
  • visit the home to interview the proposed carer and make sure the home is suitable for the child's needs.

A financial assessment will also be done to find out if any financial assistance will need to be provided.

Placements are reviewed regularly to make sure they continue to meet the child's needs.

The responsibilities of kinship carers

When a child is placed with a kinship carer, that carer has the same main responsibility as any parent: to provide a safe and stable home environment which meets the child's individual needs.

Responsibilities will include things like making sure the child attends school or nursery and receives appropriate medical and dental treatment. Other specific responsibilities will be listed in the child's individual care plan.

Kinship carers are also expected to work with the local authority, usually through the child's social worker, but sometimes by attending meetings to discuss the child. These are designed to share information and let everyone work together on the child's care plan and make sure the child gets the best possible outcome. This means that carers have to let social workers into their home on a regular basis.

The responsibilities of the local authority

The local authority is responsible for making sure that children are cared for safely. Assessing and reviewing potential carers and their homes is part of that process.

Social workers have a responsibility to see children regularly and to get their views about their care and their future plans. This means they are often required to visit children at their home and in private.

A child's social worker also supports their carer to provide the best care that they are able. This may involve helping them to get financial and/or practical support, advice and guidance.

A child's social worker is responsible for making sure that the child's care plan progresses. This will involve:

  • arranging contact between children and their parent(s) and/or siblings
  • progressing any legal matters
  • working with other agencies such as health and education, and
  • working in partnership with the carer to secure the best outcomes for the child.

The social worker should make sure you have a copy of the child's care plan and that you understand what the plan for the child is. If you have any questions about this, or your role in the child's care plan, the social worker should be able to answer them. But sometimes, children are placed with a kinship carer in a crisis situation and it's not always possible to immediately provide all the information a carer might want at such times.

Kinship Allowance

Kinship Carers are given allowances by Renfrewshire Council to undertake the care of the children the local authority places with them. Following an assessment of suitability, Kinship carers in Renfrewshire could be paid £125.86 per child per week minus the lower rate of Child Benefit. This is £13.70 per week therefore resulting in a weekly payment of £112.16 per week. The lower rate of child benefit is deducted from the overall allowance in recognition that kinship carers are entitled to claim child benefit for the children they are caring for.                                                                                

The criteria for being eligible for the kinship carers allowance in Renfrewshire are:

  • children must have been placed with carers by the local authority;
  • police checks, health checks, disclosures etc do not show any reason why the placement may not be suitable and;
  • an assessment, including a financial assessment, have confirmed that the placement is suitable and that carers need financial support in order to continue looking after the child.

Local authorities have no responsibility for providing financial support to carers who entered into a private care arrangement with a friend or family member without any intervention from the local authority.