You may already be aware of this, but the Statutory Guidance on Family and Friends Care for Local Authorities made it a requirement for every local authority in England to have a family and friends care policy. This was supposed to be in place by 30th September 2011.
The statutory guidance also goes into a lot of detail about what should be in the policies. There isn't space here to spell out every detail of what the government has said local authorities must put into their policies, but overall the aim is that local authorities should become more transparent and fairer in the way they work with family and friends carers. For example, the guidance states that "support should be based on the needs of the child rather than merely their legal status". This means that help for family and friends carers should not be restricted only to those who are foster carers.
The guidance also states that local authorities should consult with children, carers and parents when they are drawing up the policy. Also, every local authority is supposed to name a specific officer whose job it will be to take responsibility for the policy, and this would usually be a senior manager. The policies are supposed to be easily available, eg by being put up on the council's website, or there should be information leaflets.
Family Rights Group is trying to find out how councils are going about meeting this legal requirement to have a family and friends policy. We have sent a Freedom of Information questionnaire to every local authority in England, asking them to send us their policy and tell us who is the officer responsible for it. We are working with Grandparents Plus to analyse the olices we are sent, to see whether they have put in the details that the government has said they should.
We are also placing links to the policies up on the FRG website. We haven't been able to put up links to all of them yet, as it is yet another task for our heroic and hard-pressed admin who already have plenty on their plates, but we have been able to do much of north England so far. You can check out whether your own policy has gone up yet if you go to this page on our website: http://www.frg.org.uk/involving-families/family-and-friends-carers/local-policies-and-contacts
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