Children may be brought up by extended families, friends or other people they have a connection with. This can be for a variety of reasons and cover many different arrangements, see details below.
The love and care of family and friends are important to a child growing up. Supporting the parents is important too.
When parents are under pressure, the support of family and friends can help them to cope. It can be a great source of comfort and relieve stress. Sometimes though the situation means that parents are unable to care adequately for their children. Arrangements for family and friends to care for the children are then sometimes made.
Family and friends often start to care for children in a crisis or in an emergency situation. Sometimes the care will begin as a short term measure, but could become open ended or permanent.
Here are some examples of short term planned care:
- whilst a parent is working away or undergoing medical treatment
- when 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. It can put strain on family relationships and affect :
- carers and the child's parents
- other siblings
- children of the carers
- extended family members.
The arrangements will often be a private matter. The government describes this as ‘informal arrangements’. Sometimes Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children’s Services get involved.
Some arrangements will be temporary. If an arrangement is to become permanent, it may be appropriate to formalise the arrangement through the courts.
Learn more about the family and friends care arrangements in the Family & Friends Care Policy below.
Private fostering is a private arrangement which is agreed 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
- 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.
We have a duty to undertake an assessment of you to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child.
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 keep them within their wider family. We assess relatives so that they can become kinship foster carers.
Contact the child's social worker to become a foster carer and the child is:
- related to you and in the Local Authority’s care
- related to you and might come into the Local Authority's care.
There is more information in the 'Family, friends care policy below.
Contact us by phone 0800 052 0078 or email email@example.com
A key consideration in any arrangement is:
- who has parental responsibility for the child and
- the degree that those caring for the child are able to make decisions about them, both day to day and long term.
The law states parental responsibility is ‘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. Parents have to support their child 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, independent legal advice should be sought.
Where arrangements involve young people over sixteen, they will have more say about what happens to them. They will normally be able to consent to matters on their own behalf.