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2.2.2 Friends and Family Arrangements

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to arrangements made for Children in Need to live with relatives or friends where the arrangements has in some way been assisted or initiated and/or is supported by the Council.

See also Family and Friends Policy

and Placements with Friends and Family Foster Carers (also known as Connected Persons carers) Procedure

AMENDMENTS

This chapter was updated in December 2011 to include references to the Family and Friends Policy


Contents

  1. Definition of "Family and Friends Arrangements"
  2. Assisting Family and Friends Arrangements - up to 28 days
  3. Assisting Family and Friends Arrangements - Beyond 28 days


1. Definition of "Family and Friends Arrangements"

This procedure applies to arrangements made for Children in Need to live with relatives or friends where the arrangement has in some way been assisted or initiated and/or is supported by the Council.

See Family and Friends Policy.

This chapter does not apply to Looked After Children. For Looked After children, please see Placements with Friends and Family Foster Carers (also known as Connected Persons carers) Procedure.


2. Assisting Family and Friends Arrangements - up to 28 days

Assistance for Family and Friends Arrangements can be provided under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, for example advice, support or financial help. Any request must be considered within the Assessment Framework

Where it is deemed that financial support is required, the Designated Manager must agree to provide it for up to 28 days.

N.B. It is the carer with Parental Responsibility who is deciding to let a family or friend care for their children during a family difficulty or carer incapacity.

The child's social worker should ensure that the friend or family member has applied for all the necessary benefits they are entitled to from the point where arrangements have been made. Southwark's welfare rights service will assist the carer in ensuring that they are fully aware of their entitlements.

Any Section 17 financing should be in line with enhanced Income Support rates while a Single Assessment is being undertaken. Any specific items purchased to enable the child to remain with family or friends may also be considered.


3. Assisting Family and Friends Arrangements - Beyond 28 days

Section 17 assistance can be considered for more than 28 days to support the temporary safeguarding of a child whilst a more complex assessment is being undertaken of the parents/carer's ability to meet the child's long term needs, for example drug rehabilitation assessments, a parent's Mental Health Act assessment or a parent requiring hospitalisation or a long term respite care provision. 

In these circumstances, an Single Assessment should be submitted to the District Placement Panel before the 28 days have expired. 

The District Placement Panel will consider extending the interim financial arrangements beyond 28 days up to a maximum of 8 weeks whilst a Single Assessment is being undertaken. 

However, all the necessary benefit entitlement must have been applied for or transferred by the parents during any temporary care arrangements.

The Assessment will seek to determine the ongoing arrangements for the child and family and whether the Family and Friend Arrangements need to continue.

Where it is the recommendation of the Assessment that it is in the interest of the child to remain with the relative/family friend, and the parent(s) are in agreement, then a permanent legal solution should be pursued by asking the current carers to obtain Parental Responsibility in order to ensure appropriate care and control can be exercised by the carer.

In considering legal options where children under 5 are concerned particular attention needs to be made to meeting the child's needs for Permanence through Adoption. Alternatively, should families feel confident in sharing Parental Responsibility, this can be shared through an application for a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship Order (when this Order becomes available). 

See Family and Friends Policy for details about the financial packages available to support such options, for example, Child Arrangements Order Allowances.

While these options are being pursued, Section 17 finance is available for up to 8 weeks until benefits have been secured, thereby preventing the need for the child to be Looked After from the commencement of the arrangements.

In exceptional circumstances, Section 17 financial support may be required beyond 8 weeks to enable the birth parents and family and friend carer's to come to an agreement concerning future arrangements for the child, including shared Parental Responsibility.

The District Placements Panel will only agree the use of Section 17 financial support beyond 8 weeks upon a full report outlining the assessment and issues relating to the child's need for permanence.

If for any reason, a permanent arrangement cannot be pursued/agreed and the Assessment identifies there are safeguarding issues in the current arrangements, then a decision will be required concerning initiating child protection procedures or Care Proceedings. 

Where it is considered that the needs of the child can only be met through the child being Looked After, see Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure

Where Care Proceedings may be necessary, see also Legal Planning Meetings and Care Proceedings in Southwark: Practice Guidance Procedure

When the decision is made to initiate Care Proceedings, a referral should be made to the Kinship worker for assessment and approval of the carers under Placements with Friends and Family Foster Carers (also known as Connected Persons carers) Procedure

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