Fostering isn’t always about taking in a child in care, sometimes you may be looking at fostering a relative, a common situation is fostering grandchildren.
Fostering somebody else’s child means you are looking after them for longer than 28 days, if you look after a child that is not your own for longer than 28 days you have a legal responsibility to inform your local authority. Many Grandparents take on the responsibility of their grandchildren to help their birth children out. There are many reasons children stay with their grandparents, but if you are looking after your grandchildren full time, as in they are staying with you in your home for longer than a month, then you need to speak to your local authority.
Your local authority have a responsibility to make sure children are safe and you have to officially foster your grandchildren if you are going to be looking after them for a long period of time. Contacting your local authority is not scary so do not worry, in fact it is in your best interests as you will be entitled to support both financially and emotionally, although kinship carers allowances may not be the same as a normal foster carer allowance.
To become foster carer for your grandchildren you will be need to see a panel, this could be around 5 to 15 people but don’t worry they are just looking out for your best interests and those of your grandchild/children. They will ask you some questions about your situation and that of your child, they may be concerned that taking on your grandchildren full time may put a strain on your relationship with your child. If everyone is happy about your fostering your grandchildren then this should not be an issue, if your child is not happy about their children being in care then they may see you as being a best case scenario but social workers will be able to support you through this.
When fostering a grandchild or kin you will probably be encouraged to take out a residence order or a Special Guardianship Order, this will enable you to get shared parental responsibility with the child’s mother and/or father. When a child is taken into care the local authority have responsibility of the child, but if you have have a RO, or SGO this will give you more control. This is often encouraged by Local authorities in Kinship fostering cases.
If you apply for a SGO (Special Guardianship Order) then the Local Authority will look into your finances annually, this means that any allowances you receive will be means tested. Some grandparents do not like this process but as with any fostering placement the Local authority have a duty to be thorough.