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Kinship carers -advice needed

30 replies

KristinaM · 26/07/2011 14:46

chegirl, mre devere, liljaco, etc

Please coem over here and give this poster soem advice. I suspect she is entitled to a lot more help and support than she is getting

OP posts:
NanaNina · 27/07/2011 18:20

Tigerlilly is not a kinship carer. The court have made a Residence Order in her favour, and once that Order is made, the Parental Responsibility no longer remains with the LA. The PR is transferred to the holder of the RO but shared with the birthparents, though the holder of the RO is said to be in the "driving seat" - this means that the LA are able to close the case. The RO l think is a very unfair piece of legislation because it does leave RO holders to sort out all the sorts of problems that Tigerlilly has had to sort out.

The better piece of legislation for relatives is the relatively new Special Guardianship Order which came into effect in 2006. This entails a comprehensive assessment and the sw needs to carry out an assessment of the support needs of the relatives, including financial matters. The judge will not hear an application for an SGO unless the assessment of support needs has been completed. This application needs to be supported by the LA and they have the option of requesting the court make a 1 year Supervision Order alongside the SGO, to ensure that matters like contact, and any other support needs are addressed. When an SGO is made the PR is still shared with the birth parents but to a very limited extent, and birthparents cannot make application for the SGO to be overturned without leave of the court and the Judge would need to be convinced that the circumstances of the birth parents had significantly changed since the making of the SGO. Also of course if a child is well settled and securely attached to his relative, it would be a very strange judge who would return the child to the care of the birthparents.

There is also the option for the holder of the RO to request that this order be varied to an Adoption Order. However it is usually more appropriate for relatives to apply for SGOs as it provides more security than a RO and the child in question may well be aware of the identity of his birthparents, and the relatives will need to ensure that the child is brought up knowing his origins and that they are grandparents/aunts etc. Judges do routinely agree to contact in SGOs either quarterly or x 6 per year.

thefirstMrsDeVere · 02/08/2011 20:42

Of course she is a kinship carer. I am a kinship carer and I have adopted my DS. The term still applies.

Kinship carers have ownership of this title. Not social services.

NanaNina · 03/08/2011 14:05

Well of course you have ownership of a title Mrs DV, and if you still want to call yourself a kinship carer, that's fine. I am sure social services have no objection at all to adoptors calling themselves kinship carers - why should they?

I wa simply trying to point out the legal position to help clarify the differences in the various routes to permanency for a child

thefirstMrsDeVere · 03/08/2011 15:04

But the fact remains that the poster IS a kinship carer. Smile

KristinaM · 03/08/2011 16:23

According ot the childrens legal centre

Kinship care is an arrangement where a child who cannot be cared for by their parents goes to live with a relative or a family friend.

I understood this was tigerlilys situation

OP posts:
NanaNina · 03/08/2011 18:32

Mrs DV - I was thinking about your post this afternoon and thought that most adoptors would want to be perceived as parents, as this in fact is what they are. Ok you are parents to a relative child (If I've got that right) but by virtue of an Adoption Order in your favour, you are the child's parents. To me carer (of any kind) is someone who is carrying out some kind of task (as in foster carer, carer of older people etc ) However as I said before, you can of course define yourself how you wish.

As far as TL is concerned, legally she is not a kinship carer (even though she is caring for a relative child) because she has a RO in her favour. Maybe we should leave it for her to define herself, rather than you and me disagreeing about it!

Kristina. You are quite right that when a child cannot be cared for by his/her parents, kinship care is an arrangement when a relative cares for the child. Obviously an assessment has to be made of the prospective kinship carers and if considered suitable, the relatives are approved by LA Fostering Panel as Kinship Carers. However in TL's case this was not the case, because the LA put pressure on her to apply for a Residence Order, and I don't think they made any mention to her of being assessed as Kinship Carer.

I tried to explain the difference between kinship carers, and those holding a RO (as in TL's case) or SGO, or AO in the first para of my post above. At the risk of repeating myself, LAs are very keen for relatives to apply for a RO because they only have to do a relatively short assessment and if the Order is made in Court (as was the case for TL) then it's end of matter for the SSD. They can close the case, and the holder of the RO has to sort out all manner of things like contact with birth family, finance etc etc. SSD have no further responsibility because they are no longer the corporate parent, the PR is shared between the holder of the RO and the birthparents. If on the other hand the relatives are assessed as kinship carers, then the LA remains the corporate parent (by virtue of a Care Order made in court) they have a legal duty to review all Looked Aftered Children every 6 months and the fostering allowance is mandatory. Also there is a cost in terms of social work time, in terms of supporting the kinship carer, so it is small wonder that they like to encourage relative carers to apply for a RO.

I also explained in my post about the fact that the much better legislation to be used in these cases is often the Special Guardianship Allowance, which not only provides a more secure future for the child, is just a step away from adoption and ensures that the SSD have to undertake an assessment of the applicant's needs in respect of caring for the child.

However as Mrs DV says people can define themselves how they wish. I was merely trying to be factual and point out the legal differences in differing routes to care for children cared for by relatives. Legally TL is not a kinship carer, she is the holder of a RO and her intention is to apply for an SGO or AO to give the child greater security, but there is nothing to stop her perceiving herself as a kinship carer or indeed anybody else - Queen of England maybe?!

thefirstMrsDeVere · 03/08/2011 19:46

No sorry I still cannot agree.

Many relatives who care for children have ROs. It makes no difference to their status as kinship carers. You are honestly the only person I have ever heard express this view.

I do not have your breadth of experience in SS as a whole but I know hundreds and hundreds of kinship carers and have been involved in a lot of research and campaigning. I think those KC I know would be most suprised to learn that they were not KC after all! The KC meet up in Skegness would have very few attendees for a start.

Surely by your definiton the only people classed as kinship carers would be those with no PR and/or no SS involvement?

First and foremost I am my DC's mum. I am also his carer because he is disabled and I am also a kinship carer because our route to and experience of adoption is different from non related adopters.

Not better, not worse but very different.

It is up to the OP in question to define herself but I can tell you catagorically in my borough and in the borough from which my DC was adopted she would definatelly be classed as a KC.

tigerlillyd02 · 03/08/2011 21:43

Wow, didn't know there was such a debate going on!
Anyway, in short - I perceive myself to be his parent, although a non-biological parent. I am the person parenting him and will be until he reaches adulthood, no matter what order he's placed on, I am the one who loves him as a mother should love their child. I'm the person who takes care of his whole physical and emotional wellbeing and how he turns out will be entirely down to me. When he's asked as an older child or adult how he was parented as a child, he will no doubt refer to how I brought him up, rather than the lack of involvement from birth parents.
However, what the correct terminology is, I cannot say. My lo's social worker referred to kinship carers as those family foster carers whom the LA were supporting. He was initially placed on a reg 38 with me and I was referred to as a kinship carer then.
However, in terms of what the words kinship and carer actually mean, you could class any parent and anyone else bringing up a child as such (or even those caring for sick relatives). After all, even birth mothers are caring for their children and doesn't kinship mean family relationship?
I'm not quite sure if I've missed the whole point of the debate here - I'm going to re-read!!

Kewcumber · 04/08/2011 09:52

My belief is that generally people use 'labels' to identify themselves with a community which provides them with help and support. I respond to calls on MN for intercountry adopters because its a label I identify with.

I don't identify myself as anything except ds's mother to anyone outside of the adoption circle.

It is helpful for me to label myself as it is a situation out of the ordinaryand I get understanding and support from others in the same position.

I'm not sure how splitting hairs about the technical definitions is helpful?

NanaNina · 04/08/2011 18:34

Mrs DV - I know this discussion is in danger of going round in circles but feel I must reply to your last post.

Again at the risk of repeating myself I am talking about the legal aspects, and not of how people perceive themselves, as I'm sure you would agree that anyone has a right to perceive themselves as they wish.

There are the following routes to permanency for a child:

  1. Permanent foster care (by non relatives)

2. Kinship Carers (children fostered by a relative)
3. Children for whom a Residence Order has been granted by the court
4. Children for whom a Special Guardianship Order has been granted by the court.
5. Children for whom an Adoption Order has been granted by the court (by relatives or non-relatives)

Legally you can only be one of the above, though there is nothing to stop people perceiving themselves as they wish. Although I do take issue with the fact that you are perceiving yourself as a kinship carer even though you have an Adoption Order and are in fact the child's parent.

Like you, you are the only person I have heard say that you can "mix and match" the above routes to permanency. I know you didn't actually use the term "mix and match" but I'm sure you will know what I mean.

You say you know "hundreds and hundreds" of kinship carers - could this be a slight exaggeration. Children being cared for by relatives who have been approved as Kinship Carers by a LA fostering panel nationally account for approx 11 - 15% of the total number of children who are Looked After by any LA. In the 23 years I worked for a LA I think that we had approx 20 Kinship Carers across the whole county. As an independent worker my work mainly consisted of assessing relatives as Kinship Carers for a relative child and presenting the application before the LA Fostering Panel. In 5 years I carried out about 12, for the biggest LA in the country, though of course other independent workers would also be carrying them out.

I actually used to warn Kinship Carers against LAs (who are all cash strapped) pushing them into making application for a RO or SGO, unless they were absolutely sure of the terms and conditions of these orders and accepted the differences between being Kinship Carers (and being covered by the same Fostering Regs as any other carer) and having social work support, 6 monthy reviews and a mandatory fostering allowance, as opposed to being granted a RO (with no social work support, left to sort everything out themselves and only a discretionary allowance.) The better legislation was an SGO and I used to advise Kinship Carers that if they wanted gretaer permanency for the child this was the better order to go for. I have stated the reasons why in previous posts, so will not state them again.

You say "surely in your definition the only people classed as kinship carers would be those with no PR/and or no social work support." Legally kinship carers have no PR (it is held by the LA) but they do have social work support because they are Looked After Children under S.31 of the Children Act 1989, by virtue of the fact that there would be a Care Order granted by the Courts. The Fostering Regs state that LAs can place a child with relatives (so long as their initial assessment is satisfactory) for a period that does not exceed 6 weeks, and therafter the relatives must be assessed as kinship carers and presented to the LA Fostering Panel. This was often not the case and some of the assessments I did, the child had been placed far far longer than 6 weeks, or even 6 months in some cases!

I still don't understand why you want to perceive yourself as a carer of any kind, when in fact you are a parent. You say that first and foremost you are the child's mum, but you are his carer because he is disabled. Bur first and foremost your child is a child but one with disabilities, so why do you perceive yourself as his carer because he is disabled. You are his mother and that covers all aspects of caring for the child in terms of his physical, emotional, social development etc etc.

I know there are allowances called carers allowance but this is something used by the Ministry of Work & Pensions, and I think I am right in saying that a parent can claim DLA (disability living allowance) and a carer's allowance, but this doesn't mean that she is the child's carer, rather than his parent.

Sorry Mrs DV but I think you are muddled about the business of the differing routes to permanency and so are these hundreds of other kinship carers that you claim to know.

To turn it around, what is the legal status of your child? Is he a fostered child (fostered by a relative) a child made subject to a RO or SGO, or an adopted child. He can't be all 4 - he can only be 1 of them!

However I still agree that you can of course perceive yourself as you wish - the Queen of Siam if it suits!
KristinaM · 04/08/2011 19:13

Well the Government estimate that there are 20, 000 kinship carers in scotland alone so maybe all the ones that mrs dv knows are scottish

OP posts:
KristinaM · 04/08/2011 19:26

And this recently published academic study of the 2001 census found 173,000 children in kinship care in the Uk, with no suggestion that the numebrs have dropped significantly since then

OP posts:
KristinaM · 04/08/2011 19:29

Sorry , the relevant link to the Scottish Government website is here

OP posts:
thefirstMrsDeVere · 04/08/2011 22:27

I have been speaking to a number of people I know involved in Kinship care.

I am afraid they all disagree with you Nana.

But if you think you are right what can I say?

What do you mean 'claim to know'? Thats an odd thing to say. Do you think I am making it up? I expect you have heard of FB and internet forums. It is entirely possible to know hundreds and thousands of people if you are involved in campaigning and awareness raising. I was also involved in a great deal of research regarding kinship care. I have been involved with training of SWs (yes little old me without a social work degree to my name). Not once, not ever, was the title kinship carer reserved for foster carers without PR.

As for your ideas about carers, you are offensive. I was my DD's mother too but I was also her carer. Didnt stop me being her mother. I am my husbands carer too but I am also his wife. I am my son's carer as well as his mother. I dont understand why you think I shouldnt refer to myself as such. Your passive agressive attempts to imply that I dont see 'the child' but his disabilities are unpleasant to say the least.

How funny that you are so sure you are right yet everyone else is 'muddled'. I think that says quite a lot about how you see things.

You seem to find it very difficult to be challenged on pretty much any subject.


NanaNina · 04/08/2011 22:52

Well that's told me......Mrs DV .....I don't know your back story too well but I do recall you saying that it was a terrible ordeal (or something similar) in relation to the child you adopted. I think I got the sense that you had a low opinion of social workers (sorry if I have that wrong) because of your experiences with adopting your child.

You find parts of my post offensive and I find most of your post defensive the fact that you refer to yourself as "little old me without a social work degree to my name" suggests to me that you think I am trying to put you down, which is not the case. As it happens I don't have a social work degree either - it was a 2yr course when I trained in the 70s.

I do know that I am right as far as the law is concerned and I was suggesting you were muddled not everyone else. Hmm as for your observation that I find it very difficult to be challenged on pretty much any subject, I am of the view that only one subject is being discussed here, and kettles and pots come to mind.

I think this discussion has gone far enough but I would be interested to know what you consider the legal status of your child to be.

thefirstMrsDeVere · 04/08/2011 23:00

What has legal status of my child got to do with anything?

I have had some fantastic experiences with social workers. I have met some dreadful ones who use dodgy tactics to put individuals on the back foot in order to shut them up. Like questioning their commitment to their children, implying they dont 'see the child' etc. But I hold no grudge against the profession so sorry to disappoint. I think this is obvious from the way I jump to their defence on threads bashing SW and I am sure you are aware of this.

I dont think I have every referred to a terrible ordeal with regards to my son. Perhaps you are confused with the terrible ordeal I suffered with regard to my DD?

I am more than happy to enter into debate and do so frequently on MN. Your posts tend to be more in the form of statements of fact.

EllenJaneisnotmyname · 04/08/2011 23:16

NanaNina, strange nickname for someone with so little compassion. My DS2, my birth DS2, is disabled, and funnily enough I am both his loving mother and his carer. Yes, I get Carer's Allowance, just like anyone who cares for someone with at least MR care component. I am registered at my GP as a carer, I carry a Carer's Card with me in case of accident, I am a member of the local Carers Association. None of these people discriminate agaist my carer status because I happen to be related to my child. Only you seem to do that.

NanaNina · 05/08/2011 12:59

Sorry Mrs VD if I have some of your back story wrong - I did say I wasn't entirely sure. Yes I agree that some of my posts have been statements of facts, because that's what I have been trying to do, explain the legal issues related to the thread and to clarify the differing routes to permanency for a child, and that entails being factual. Re the legal status of your child, I was just trying to turn the issue round a bit, to see if that made more sense to you.

If you were a kinship carer the status of your child would be a LA child with the LA holding PR under the terms of S.20 of the Children Act 1989.

If there was a RO in your favour the child would be "subject to a RO" with you sharing the PR with the birthparents, though being in the drivers seat.

If there was an SGO made in your favour the child would be "subject to an SGO" with you holding the majority of the PR but not being allowed to change the child's last name, take the child out of the country for 3 months or apply for an adoption order without the consent of the birth parents.

If an Adoption Order has been made in your favour, the child is your son/daughter.

When writing any reports for court, be it for a RO, SGO or AO, you always have to state the current legal status of the child. I actually think that the legal status of any child not living with birth parents is an important issue, because it determines the degree of permance and stability (or lack of it) of the child in question.

Anyway I think we will have to agree to disagree. I honestly was only trying to clarify the differences between kinship carers, RO holders, SGO holders and those with an Adoption Order made in their favour. I know that I am correct in the legal sense, but I think the debate has got clouded with the legal issues and the way in which individuals perceive themselves, which I have been at pains to say is of course something that all of us are entitled to do. I am an OAP and I don't particulary like the term, but nonetheless that is what I am. I probably perceive myself as a woman in her late 60s.

One last thing, please believe that I was not trying to put you down at all, and I know that some of my posts when trying to explain matters of fact can come over as too directive.

NanaNina · 05/08/2011 13:14

Oh dear I appear to have upset you too EllieJane. I was most certainly not discriminating against someone perceiving themselves as a carer, so your allegation that I am has no substance. I was merely saying to Mrs DV that I was struggling to understand how she saw herself as a mother and a carer for her own child, and I did state that the Min of W&P uses the terms "Carers allowance" etc etc. My neighbour popped in for coffee just now and she is a young mother with 3 children, one of whom has special needs. I asked her if she saw herself as a mother of xxxx and his carer. She looked puzzled and said "of course not, I am his mother" so I guess it depends on the individual how they perceive themselves, which we all have the right to do.

I am puzzled as to how you can make the allegation that I am a person with"so little compassion" from reading lines of text of a forum like this one. Can you read minds? I am not going to try to defend myself against that allegation as I have no need - I think I know myself rather better than you!

EllenJaneisnotmyname · 05/08/2011 13:33

I rather thought you might have been out of the system for a while. As my DS has a significant disability I am regarded, legally, as his carer as well as his parent. When he is no longer a child, over 18, I will still be his carer and his parent. How is that different from any relative or friend caring for a disabled person. I suggest you look up 'parent carer' on Google and see how we are actually perceived. The term 'carer' has legal status and does not equate to 'care assistant' or someone paid to work in a care home. Have a look at this link to Carers Direct. // You will find that parent carers are included.

BTW, it's EllenJane, not EllieJane.

EllenJaneisnotmyname · 05/08/2011 13:37
tigerlillyd02 · 05/08/2011 14:23

Ellen, I don't think NN was saying that you weren't considered a carer of your child in terms of how organisations and DWP perceive you, as she did state that the DWP offers a carers allowance etc. I think it was more in terms of legal status, in connection to your child.

If you had to go to court to fight a custody battle over your child, would you only be classed as the childs mother and parent, legally and the care you give would just be a part of your defense (obviously a big part as being in the childs best interests to have you around)?
Looking on the opposite side of it, were you abusing your child and they were taken from you; you would have no rights as a carer to decide what happens to them, but rather the rights of a parent with legal parental responsibility, surely?

The term carer (I thought) seemed to come about, along with the money aspects of the roles (DWP) and stuck when trying to define what some parents have to deal with and with organisations offering advice. I think it's defined more in terms of roles than how you're legally attached to your children. I was a HR Advisor, and had legal rights of an employee (like you have carer rights) but this was not a legal status in terms of my relationship with my child.

Legally, you have rights as a carer in terms of what support is available to you (money and otherwise). But, your legal connection to your child is that of a parent. And the link provided just states also what support you are legally entitled to as a carer.

I think that's what NN is also trying to point out.

I might be wrong, but I cannot see how the term carer in this instance has a legal bearing bearing.

But, all this seems to have gone completely off track now...... and perhaps a little OTT!

tigerlillyd02 · 05/08/2011 14:51

Oh and going back to the first topic which I have now looked up in considerable detail:

I am now considered, legally, a parent of my child, with a residence order. In terms of parental responsibility, this is shared with his BM.

So, as a legal parent, I can make all day to day decisions on his behalf, sign for medical treatment etc. There are some things where I need to also have his BM's consent, such as if I were to emigrate or want him sterlised (as if I would!) or change his surname. I can do these things, but like a mom-dad relationship who are both considered parents, both of us need to agree.

In these same situations, carer is considered in terms of either foster carer or kinship carer (which are both along the same lines but you're either related or not). These people do not hold any parental responsibilty and cannot make important decisions on their behalf. They are, basically doing a job (albeit a very good one!) and have a legal right to support.

As there are so many people who are bringing up children from within their family, kinship carers has been adopted as a term to call to all those people when trying to access support services directed to them, so understandably, many see themselves as such. However, legally, they are either a carer or parent.

That's what I managed to figure out anyway!

EllenJaneisnotmyname · 05/08/2011 16:06

Hi, tigerlilly. Sorry to go off on one! It was this paragraph from NN that upset me.

I still don't understand why you want to perceive yourself as a carer of any kind, when in fact you are a parent. You say that first and foremost you are the child's mum, but you are his carer because he is disabled. Bur first and foremost your child is a child but one with disabilities, so why do you perceive yourself as his carer because he is disabled. You are his mother and that covers all aspects of caring for the child in terms of his physical, emotional, social development etc etc.

It seemed like she was saying that a parent who cares for a disabled child is merely doing what any parent does, nothing extra. I would like her to try it!

Anyway, sorry for digressing, I'll leave you to it and I hope MrsDeV feels able to come back.

tigerlillyd02 · 05/08/2011 16:27

Hi Ellen,

Yes, I see what you mean, but think it was just badly worded. I think she was trying to comprehend why would you want to perceive yourself as a carer with no legal rights (in terms of having any say over your child) when you are in fact his parent and have more rights legally than anybody else.

Again, I think she was trying to argue a legal fact rather than a personal perception, although the way it was written didn't quite imply this. I'm sure she'll correct me if I'm wrong.

And, no worries!! I'm just hoping I managed to stop the argument :)

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