Your child’s social worker should firstly discuss with you whether your child’s other parent (if you don’t live together), or anyone else in your family network could safely care for your child.
If social workers are saying your child cannot live with you or you aren’t able to cope with raising your child, it is really important that you ask your family members whether any of them could care for your child. If so, they should contact your child’s social worker to tell them this as soon as possible.
If there is someone in your family network who could keep your child safe, the social worker can arrange for your child to live with them temporarily straight away, provided they are sure it would be suitable for your child. This means that:
- If it is your child’s other parent who could care for them, the social worker will need to do some immediate checks about them and their home environment before placing your child with them. They will then do a fuller check afterwards.
- If it is a relative or friend who could care for them, the social worker will need to do some detailed checks on them, their home and anyone else living there to make sure the arrangement is suitable for your child. Some of these checks can be done immediately after your child has moved to live with them rather than before. If, after doing these checks, the social worker thinks they are suitable to look after your child, your child can then live with them for up to 16 weeks, (with a possible extension of up to 8 weeks). During that time, they would need to be assessed further to check they are suitable to care for your child long term.
- If there isn’t anyone in your family network who can care for your child, or your child’s social worker is not able to approve the relative or friend you have suggested as a foster carer, then your child will stay with an approved foster carer, or in a residential setting, such as a children’s home.
Your child’s social worker should make sure that your child lives in a place which causes the least disruption possible to your child’s life. For example, if possible, your child should be able to stay living with any brothers or sisters and keep going to the same school.
Where your child lives whilst they are in care is called a placement.