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1.1.3 Kinship Care Policy


  1. Introduction
  2. Informal Arrangements with Extended Families
  3. Formal Arrangements
  4. Key Criteria for Placement Decisions

1. Introduction

The vast majority of children grow up within their own caring and nurturing birth families.

When children cannot remain with their birth parents, Hillingdon is committed to supporting and encouraging placements within extended families that are able to offer safe and secure care. This policy is underpinned by the Children Acts, 1989 and 2004, and the Human Rights Act (Article 8).

Extended families of one form or another have always played and continue to play an important role in the care of children across the world. In some societies full time care, particularly by grandparents, is the norm and in others relatives typically will step in when parents cannot for whatever reason act as primary caretakers.

Research evidence suggests that many young people feel a sense of emotional permanence -feeling safe and secure - living with extended families and such placements minimise disruption and offer greater stability and better continuity of culture and community.

Placements with extended family members can be temporary or long term and are frequently arranged without any involvement of the statutory services. Most families sort out short-term care crises without reference to the Children's Services Department.

There are occasions when Children's Services Departments are asked to assist in this informal arrangement and the child comes within the definition of a Child in Need. There are also times when the Children's Services Department has to take the initiative, e.g. where there is concern about the birth family's ability to promote the welfare of their child/children and the children need to be cared for away from their birth families.

2. Informal Arrangements with Extended Families

The Department will support and encourage safe informal arrangements with extended family members where this will promote the welfare of the child. This normally arises from an agreement between the parent and relative or close family friend or can result from a Family Group Conference.

It is not possible for the Department to provide financial support or continued support for all families who make such arrangements for the short or long term care of their children unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The policy set out below will give guidance as to the when this would be appropriate.

3. Formal Arrangements

There are essentially five ways of achieving formal solutions to the placement of children with extended families (kinship carers): -

The Department's policy is to promote Adoption, Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements Order as the most appropriate options, when an arrangement for the permanent placement of a child outside its birth family cannot be made without a Court Order.

In all cases the Department must be satisfied that the proposed arrangement is in the child's best interests, ensuring that the child's racial, cultural religious and linguistic needs will be met.

Responsibility for recommending the best option belongs to the parents and prospective carer but is shared with the Department when the child is on a Care Order.

4. Key Criteria for Placement Decisions

4.1 The Department's criteria in recommending an option should be to ensure: -
  1. That the child's welfare is paramount in the chosen option taking into consideration his/her wishes and feelings;
  2. That the prospective carers are empowered and able to take on their role;
  3. That the Department's role in caring for the child is minimised in so far as this is consistent with the welfare principle.
4.2 Any proposed placement would need to consider:
  • The needs of the child and young person including his/her racial/cultural land religious and linguistic needs;
  • What assessments or checks are required to be made concerning the proposed carer;
  • The financial arrangements including the ability of the parent(s) and carer(s) to contribute and the duration of any payments and when they need to be reviewed;
  • The level of supervision required;
  • The wishes and feelings of the child, parent and any other person who is considered to be relevant.

The following chapters deal with the implementation of this policy in relation to specific circumstances:

Section 17 Support for Kinship Arrangements Procedure

Immediate Placements with Connected Persons (under Regulation 24 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) regulations 2010) and their Approval as Foster Carers Procedure

Permanency Policy and Permanence Planning Procedure

Permanence Planning Guidance

Child Arrangement Orders and Child Arrangement Allowances

Special Guardianship Orders Procedure