2.3 Section 17 Support for Kinship Arrangements
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
- Circumstances when a Child in Need Living with Extended Family may Qualify for Support
- Section 17 Payments to Kinship Carers
- Payments that Exceed 4 Weeks
- Payments that Exceed 3 Months
An arrangement for a child to live with his or her extended family should be the first consideration for any child who has to live apart from her/his family and is assessed as 'In Need'.
The starting point for any such arrangements should be the child. Careful consideration should be given to whether the child's interest can be best addressed outside of the public care system. If the needs of the child can be met within a family or friends setting and there is no need for the child to be Accommodated then, in agreement with the family, the local authority should withdraw.
If during the course of the assessment and discussion it is clear that the family can manage the arrangement but need additional financial help, then support through Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 could be considered.
Section 17 payments will only been considered for families after an Assessment, including a financial assessment, where the assessment recommends that the health and safety of the child or children would be severely prejudiced without financial support. The assessment must include evidence that all other means of financial assistance have been explored.
Agreement for regular payments must be made by the relevant Team Manager and will be based on an amount equivalent to the published DWP income support rate for dependent children and must be subject to financial assessment of the carers.
Local safeguarding checks should be carried out where possible at this stage. (It would be unlikely that DBS checks could be completed in the timescale)
Any payment/agreement made between the parent and the carer and any benefit entitlements that the child or carer may have e.g. Child Tax Credit and/or Working Tax Credits will be taken into account in setting the rate of support. Where these benefits cannot be easily transferred or the parents are unwilling to contribute the Department may make up the difference until the issue is resolved.
All Section 17 payments must be reviewed within 4 weeks of payment and the continuation agreed by the Service Manager.
In exceptional circumstances an enhanced payment can be agreed as an appropriate one-off costs e.g. purchases of additional bedding or beds.
The social worker must draw up a contract with the carer and parent to ensure that everyone is clear about their roles and responsibilities. This should include an undertaking to care for child, timescales and contact arrangements.
Where the placement is intended or happens to continue beyond four weeks, the Department should satisfy itself that the carers are competent to take on this role and DBS checks should be requested.
An Assessment and Child's Plan must also be completed.
Where the child comes within the definition of Privately Fostered, the Private Fostering Procedure will also apply.
In exceptional circumstances Section 17 payments can be made to private foster carers with the agreement of the Service Manager.
Where the plan suggests that the child/children are unlikely to return home within 3 months other formal placement arrangements must be considered.
Any decision must take into account the Department's key criteria for placement decisions as set out in Section 4 of Kinship Care Policy.
There must be a discussion and agreement with the parent and carer about other options. The continued use of Section 17 payments is not a long-term solution and must be time limited.