Welcome to the Family and Friends Carers’ discussion board and thank you for your post. I am sorry for the late response due to the current volume of posts we are receiving. I am sorry to hear of the difficulties your family is having.
You will be potentially be taking on the care of your partner’s baby granddaughter (when she is born) as children’s services, I think, intend going to court to apply for an interim care order
which would allow them to make decisions for her, including removing her from her parents’ care. Children’s Services cannot make a court application until the baby is born. The court will decide if the baby’s welfare requires her to be removed; it is a very serious step to separate a mother (and father) from their newborn baby.
You have already come forward to care for her, if required; this would allow her to be placed with her sibling for whom you already have a SGO and would prevent her being placed outside the family. If the baby came to you under an interim care order then this would have to be as a temporary fostering arrangement and you would need to be temporarily and later fully approved as a foster carer. You would receive the same allowance as an unrelated foster carer. Please see our advice sheet relatives and friends taking on the care of a vulnerable child in an emergency
which sets out the different ways in which children can be placed with relatives, and how ‘private’ arrangements differ from placements and affect what support is available to carers.
I would suggest that you confirm with children’s services as soon as possible how they propose to place the baby with you so that you can make it clear that you would need this to be a fostering arrangement to begin with.
I don’t know what the parents’ views are and whether they are in agreement with the baby coming to you but they should have access to legal advice and representation (they will get legal aid in care proceedings) and the opportunity to be properly assessed to see if they can care for the baby.
I am guessing that children’s services have suggested that you would later obtain a Special Guardianship Order for the baby (if the court decides that she cannot be returned to her parents’ care); again if the baby was a looked after child first Children’s Services would have to assess your and the baby’s support needs for a SGO allowance which is means-tested and discretionary. The court would not be likely to agree to a baby remaining in long-term foster care and would want a person with parental responsibility to care for her until adulthood; usual under SG for family members or as you suggest as adopters if unrelated. However, a court should not agree a plan for adoption if there are suitable assessed and approved family members who are willing and able to care for her, if this allows her to grow up with her brother and if that is in her best interests.
It will be really important for you to try to negotiate the best package of support you can. If you have access to a solicitor (the local authority may pay for you to get some legal advice) they could help you negotiate for the support you and the baby may need and if you are party to the proceedings you can make sure the court knows what support you need.
Do have a look at our information on support including financial support in our advice sheets on DIY Special Guardianship – information for family and friends carer
(Part 3) and support for relatives and friends who are looking after someone else’s child (a)
and support for relatives and friends who are looking after someone else’s child (b)
Also make sure to read the local authority’s family and friends care plan which you may be able to access local policies and contacts
Please do post again if you need to or ring the Freephone advice line on 0808 8010366 Mon – Fri, 9.30 am – 3.00 pm if you would like to discuss your situation with an adviser.
With best wishes