Hello SFM I am a retired social worker (30 years in all) and for the last 5 years I worked independently assessing kinship carers for a LA. It isn't a case of pass or fail, it is as others have said whether you can provide a safe and stable home for the child or children.
When I first read your post I thought you were concerned about a child in the family having to go into LA care. I would want to know the exact circumstances of that happening, but it seems that the positive thing is that you provided such help to the mother of this child and you do say she is a distant relative. Did you ever consider caring for this child yourself? It isn't really a problem but we do have to get to the bottom of anything that raises concerns in an assessment, and I have never yet done such an assessment without there being some concerns! It's called being human!
Re your finances. Yes 3k is a lot of debt and the reason we ask about finances is to ensure that the child is going to be in a stable home (in the sense that it is not in danger of being re-possessed or being evicted in the case of people in private rents or Housing Associations) The other reason though is to ensure that the applicants have a sensible attitude to their finances and that their finances are in "good order" so to speak. Having said that I have done assessments when applicants have been in considerable amounts of debt but the placement with the relative was in the child's best interests.
You mention debt for catalogues etc....can you say what else. Feel free to PM me if you like. I think the best plan is for you to type out the amount of money you owe and to who you owe it, and what kind of re-payments are you making. Please be honest about this (as I'm sure you would be) but debt is an embarrassing situation for anyone. Can the re-payments you are making be verified - do you have documentation to support the re-payments, statements etc. I know someone said the sw didn't look at their bank statements, and I wouldn't either unless the applicant was in debt and then I would. If you can demonstrate that you are making regular re-payments then it should be ok. Also of course the fostering allowances you get for the child/ren you will be caring for will make it easier to pay off the debt (but don't mention this to the sw!!!)
I'm not sure if the child/ren is already with you. If so they should be making payments to you now before you are assessed. The other main part of any kinship assessment is the r/ship you have with the child's parents, as the assessor needs to be absolutely sure that you can keep the child safe from their own parents (as by definition the parents will have been found to be unsafe parents ) and if this is your son or daughter it's a tough call, but as far as I'm concerned that is the "nitty gritty" of kinship assessments, because the applicant must be able to ensure that the child doesn't get caught in any "cross fire" between you and the parents.
One more thing.......and I won't go into it here, it would take too long. So briefly, be certain that you are being assessed as a kinship fostercarer because the LA have to pay you a fostering allowance for each child. However many LAs are urging kinship carers to apply for Special Guardianship Orders, which does provide greater security for child as the applicant has Parental Responsibility and the LA are out of the picture. However it is discretionary whether they pay you an allowance or not, and often pay just for 2 years. IF this happens let me know.............
Thank you for your replies. The "issues" are those of my distant relative, who I had little contact with until she became pregnant and needed a lot of support, because of complex MH issues caused by abuse. The plan is to hopefully eventually have her DS return to live with her, she is fully engaging with MH services.
They do look into your financial situation but whether a debt of less than £3K that you are repaying to a schedule would be a problem I don't know. I would think that if everything else was ok it probably would not matter. The other issues might be a problem if your home life sounded chaotic.
This was one of my worries when I first applied to foster. The main thing that they are looking to see is that you can offer the child security and are not in danger of losing your home to debt. I have a similar amount of debt to you and it was never an issue for me. To be honest my la did not look at bank statements, I had to fill a form detailing my incomings and outgoings but they took my word for it. I wouldn't worry too much
I am about to be assessed as a kinship foster carer. I know that i will pass, when it comes to my personal life and home/lifestyle.
However, we have had a situation going on in the family, for a while, which has led to a child in the family going into LA foster care.
I had started working part time, as i have supported the mother since pregnancy (all documented), she has a lot of issues, i took her to live with me at one point, as well as part caring for my mother, who had cancer (now in recovery and independent).
As a result i have had to re-negotiate my re-payments for debt, catalogue etc. On paper, i have debts, less than 3k, but i am making regular repayments. If i worked as i normally could, these would not be an issue, they do not affect my home.
How much do they go into your finances and will my situation stop me being able to pass the assessment?