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Kinship care, how does it work?

(2 Posts)
DefinitelyOdd Sun 20-Nov-16 18:49:56

Hi I am sorry if this is the wrong board but I have tried looking online and can't seem to find any definitive answers.

My fiancé's brother and girlfriend are expecting their first child this December. Due to the birth mother being autistic with learning difficulties her fiancé (my BIL) is her carer. There have been several concerns raised during the pregnancy about their ability to cope when the baby is born. As far as I know, they have been to hospital a lot because my SIL panics and there has been several visits from Health Visitors and her social worker. (Obviously I don't know how many visits you get and whether they are being monitored because the couple tend to lie about everything and getting the truth is a very difficult thing).

My MIL is terrified that the baby will end up in care due to the unsuitability of the parents and as such is looking for the baby to be housed with family. As she herself has several health problems, the stress is not doing her any favours (even though this might all be a storm in a teacup) and I was wondering if anyone knew about or could explain the Kinship Care system?

Specifically, what do SS look for in kinship carers? Are the carers means tested? Would being childless affect the process? Would being in ill health affect the process? Would the extended family be given the option or would the parents have to nominate a family member?

Another point of note is that my MIL is the legal representative of my SIL so she would probably be made aware of any issues surrounding the suitability of the couple to parent.

Sorry for the length but its a fairly worrying time for the family and getting a clear answer is so difficult from the LA.

crispandcheesesanwichplease Sun 20-Nov-16 20:15:58

Hi definitely, this is probably the right place to post your question.

Is the social worker your SIL's sw or from children's services? I appreciate you don't get the full story, nor should you as it's your relatives' private lives and not anyone else's business. However I also understand the wider family's concerns about the future. If your MIL is the legal rep for your SIL she should, really be kept fully in the picture regarding any issues/concerns about the forthcoming baby.

Anyhow, if a child cannot be cared for by it's birth parents then the local authority needs to take steps to find alternative permanent care. The local authority has a duty to prioritise any potential carers from the extended birth family before looking outside of the family.

If there are any family members who would like to put themselves forward to be considered as permanent carers for the baby they need to contact children's services and inform them of this. Children's services should have an initial meeting with the proposed carers to establish whether or not to proceed with a proper assessment. Health issues and living circumstances and any criminal records will be considered at this point. If the proposed carers have poor health this could bar any further assessment as soc servs are looking for a long term permanent placement for the baby and such carers need to be presumed to be fit and capable of providing care until the baby reaches adulthood.

If children's services decide the family members may be suitable to look after the baby long term then an assessment should be carried out which will take several months. This assessment will include DBS checks (criminal records), a full medical, references from people who know them well, meetings and interviews with the potential carers, a financial assessment to ensure that they can feed and provide for the baby (financial support is sometimes available but that's another discussion altogether). The assessment is exactly the same as the one used for would be foster carers and adopters but some flexibility can be used if the people being assessed are extended family - with discretion.

At the end of this assessment period a decision will be made as to whether the local authority supports them as potential carers for the baby and the case then goes before a permanency panel. At this panel the decision is made as to whether or not the potential carers will be put forward to care for the baby.

Sometimes birth parents are supportive of extended family members taking on care of their baby (it's often the only chance they will have of having any ongoing relationship with the baby as otherwise the baby will likely be adopted outside of the family). However even if the birth parents object the local authority may have to disregard this objection if it's in the baby's best interest).

There's a lot of ifs/whats/whys involved in being assessed as potential carer for a a non birth child so it's impossible to give you a definitive explanation about what exactly will happen but the above is a basic guideline.

I hope this is helpful. let me know if you have any other specific questions or PM me if you want to have a more thorough discussion.

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