Grandparents and other family members are increasingly frequently being used by Local Authorities Social Services Departments as carers for their extended families children, namely “kinship carers”, when the natural parents are unable to cope.
It is seen as a better alternative than placing the children in care or with a foster family, as these options are a drain on the public purse, as are the court proceedings themselves. Local Authorities have for a long time relied on the better nature and attachments of grandparents and relatives to help out – often with no payments whatsoever and indeed often without the Local Authorities even mentioning or offering payments.
Sometimes this can cause financial hardship for the carers, who may have retired or be unable to work due to the child’s care needs and many have little income to support themselves, let alone several growing children. Sometimes there is surprisingly no additional support such as assistance with nursery payments or any kind of emotional support, which one might expect to be standard practice under the circumstances.
That may now have changed. In the High Court recently, a challenge to a Local Authority’s policy for financial support of kinship carers was successful and the carer has won the right to be paid at the same rate as a foster carer for the child she is looking after under a Special Guardianship Order.
The Local Authority in question had only offered to pay two thirds of the usual allowance that they pay other foster carers. Some authorities offer absolutely nothing by way of payments to grandparents and relative carers, and do not encourage or support the making of orders – preferring things to be done on an informal or ad hoc basis.
If you are in this position, it is vital to get good legal representation to secure the best outcome for you. Our expert solicitors can help.
For further information, please contact a member of our Family team on 01625 442100.