Are you a kinship carer?
There are several types of kinship care:
Formal kinship carer of a looked after child
This is where a child is formally looked after (in care) with a relative or close friend. A child is looked after if a Children's Hearing has placed a child, or children, in your care, or where the parent has asked the local authority to care for their child and we have asked you to be their carer and placed the child with you.
Where a child is looked after, your suitability to be a formal carer needs to be assessed and you must then be approved to ensure that you are suitable to be a formal carer. This is similar to the process foster carers go through and is about your ability to care for the child and work with those who are supporting the child and family.
As an approved kinship carer of a looked after child you will receive an allowance to cover the costs of caring for that child. This allowance is paid as long as the child is looked after and in your care, and it equates to that paid to a foster carer minus relevant benefits.
Please see the section below on financial support for details of the current allowances.
Informal kinship carer
You are an informal kinship carer if you are caring for a child who has not been placed in your care by the local authority or a Children's Hearing. This is often a family arrangement or an agreement you have made to keep a child safe.
The local authority will only be involved in informal arrangements like these if we are concerned for a child's welfare. While this situation does not attract a regular allowance, support to maximise income for the child is available from Citizens Advice Bureau or the council's welfare benefits service. Where the local authority are involved other support can also be provided.
Kinship carers with a Section 11 Order
Some kinship carers will have what is known as Kinship Care Order in relation to a child. This means you have gone to court and the court has awarded you custody of the child or children. Such orders are also often referred to as residence or section 11 orders and they allow you to determine the place of residence for the child or children, and often also grant you parental rights to allow to make relevant decisions about the child in your care. The order remains in place until the child reaches the age of 16.
Children subject to a residence order are not looked after, and there is often no need for social work involvement, though all carers are welcome at support groups and can access advice and assistance at any time.
Financial support in the form of an allowance is available for some carers in this situation, and additional support can be provided for some specific needs. Please see the Financial Support section below for details of current allowances, and eligibility.
Financial help for kinship carers
Looked after children living with kinship carers have the same status as children placed with a foster carer. Kinship carers where the child is looked after therefore receive the same level of allowance to cover the costs of caring for the child.
The legislation also says that some carers who have a section 11 (residence or Kinship Care Order) order should get the same allowance. You can see full details on the Scottish Government website.
In Falkirk this means that:
- In line with the legislation, kinship carers whose child was looked after before they obtained the section 11 order will continue to receive the fostering equivalent allowance minus relevant benefits until the child reaches the age of 16.
- Where a child was not looked after before the carer obtained the section 11 order, but it is deemed that the placement was made 'with the involvement of the local authority', carers will be eligible for the allowance until the child reaches the age of 16.
- Where the child is deemed at risk of coming in to care, as assessed by the local authority, an allowance may be payable.
Other forms of financial support are available in certain circumstances, such as assistance with legal fees to obtain a section 11 order or help with equipment. Please refer to your social worker or kinship care worker for information.
Allowances paid are related to the age of the child and are currently (October 2020):
|Age of child
|0 - 4 years old
|5 - 10 years old
|11 - 15 years old
|16+ years old
From these amounts, Child Benefit which is currently £21.05 for the first child and £13.95 for each subsequent child is deducted. If you have a Kinship Care Order for the child you are caring for then you may also be eligible for the child element of universal credit. If this is the case then we would also deduct this amount from your kinship allowance.
The allowances are paid fortnightly in advance directly into your bank account.
If you have Kinship Care Order for your child then the legislation says that allowances must be paid until the child's 16th birthday as long a the child remains in your care.
If you are caring for a looked after child the payments will continue as long as the child remains looked after. Some looked after children may also be eligible for what is known as continuing care. Your social worker will talk to you and the young person you care for about this and what it means for you both and the support you receive.
Support to kinship carers is important, and all carers regardless of their or the child's status, are welcome to access our support service. This includes support groups, advice and guidance and assistance to access supports from other agencies or services.
Any kinship carer with queries should contact their social worker or our kinship care service at: