Children may be brought up by members of their extended families, friends or other people who are connected with them for a variety of reasons and in a variety of different arrangements. These arrangements have been detailed below.
For every child growing up, their family and friends are important for the love, care and support they provide, not just to them, but to their parents in caring for them.
When parents are under pressure, for whatever reason, if they can draw upon support from their family and friends, most will get through and family life will continue. For some, however, their circumstances result in them being unable to care adequately for their children and arrangements may be made for them to be cared for by friends or family members.
Family and friends often start to care for other people’s children in a crisis or emergency situation. Sometimes the care will begin as a short term measure, but gradually or subsequently become open-ended or permanent. Family and friends carers may provide a series of planned short episodes of care for children, for instance whilst a parent is working away or undergoing medical treatment, or children may come and go at short notice in response to the chaotic lifestyle of their parents. Such circumstances can be very challenging for the carers and normal family relationships may be strained, not just between the carers and the child’s parents, but with other siblings, children of the carers and extended family members.
The arrangements will most often be a private matter (what the government describes as ‘informal arrangements’) but may sometimes involve Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children’s Services. Some arrangements will be temporary, others may be planned to be – or become – permanent, such that it is appropriate to consider formalising them through the courts.
For further information about different types of family and friends care arrangements, please read the Family & Friends Care Policy.
Private fostering is a private arrangement which is agreed informally between the child’s parents and the carer. If you are looking after someone else’s child and it is: continuous for more than 28 days, the child is under 16 years old or 18 years old if they have a disability and you are anyone other than a grandparent, uncle/aunt, brother/sister or step parent then it is likely that this is a private fostering arrangement and you must advise the Local Authority. The Local Authority has a duty to undertake an assessment of you to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child/ren. Contact us on 0345 045 5203 for more information.
When a child can't carry on living with their parents, we will always try to maintain them within their wider family. Relatives can be assessed as kinship foster carers. If you'd like to be considered as a foster carer for a child who is both related to you and in the Local Authority’s care (or might come into our care) please contact the child's social worker in the first instance.
There is more information in the 'Family, friends care policy on the looking after someone else's child page.
Contact us by calling 0800 052 0078 or by emailing email@example.com
A key consideration in any arrangement is who has parental responsibility for the child and the extent to which those caring for him or her are able to make day to day and more long-term decisions about them.
Parental responsibility is described in law as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property’.
All mothers and most fathers have parental responsibility, though parents have to ensure that their child is supported financially, whether they have parental responsibility or not. Fathers will usually have ‘PR’ if they are or were married to the mother or named on the child’s birth certificate. Otherwise, they might make a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother or seek a Parental Responsibility Order (or another order that provides ‘PR’) through the court. If there is any uncertainty about who has parental responsibility for a particular child, or someone is wondering how to obtain it, independent legal advice should be sought.
Where arrangements involve young people over sixteen, they will have more say about what happens to them and will normally be able to consent to matters on their own behalf.