Caring for family member, financial help?!

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Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:16 am

Caring for family member, financial help?!

Post by Dragon-Embers » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:34 pm

Hello. I am currently trying to find out if there is any kind of help for me and my partner as we are looking after his niece on a full time basis. She was placed in our care by her father, initially because he was ill, however since then, it turns out he's not fit for look after her at the moment, and he's agreed that he wants her to live with us for at least a year. Social services are more than happy for this to happen because she is getting a much better level of care with us than she has ever had!
She's only 16 months old, and I have had to give up my job so that I can look after her! So we are solely relying on my partners income for everything.
I would also like to add that we had to buy EVERYTHING for her when she came to live with us. Cot, wardrobe, bedding, clothes, pram, toys ect ect... And since giving up work I'm worried about money. It seems unfair that I have had to give up my income to look after her.
Does anybody out there have any advice for me? We haven't gone down any kind of legal route as of yet? But we are considering it because we believe she will be much better off with us permanently.
Thanks for taking the time to read this!

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 777
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Caring for family member, financial help?!

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Aug 15, 2018 11:29 am

Dear Dragon-Embers,

Welcome the Friends and family discussion board.

I can see that you have taken on the care of your partner’s niece because her father has not been well enough to care for her. Although children services have approved of the arrangement they have not provided you with any support. Only the parents have legal parental responsibility which allows them to make all the decisions about your niece. (Dad will have it if he was married to mum or if not, if he signed the birth certificate or obtained it some other way-see our advice sheet 2 about parental responsibility).

The initial plan was for you to care for her short term but now dad is asking to extend this for up to a year.

However, you are now thinking that it might be in your niece's best interests to live with you long term. For this to happen there would need to be a court order giving you legal parental responsibility and stating that her residence is with you. This could be a child arrangements order or special guardianship order. Have a look at this helpful FAQ for kinship carers which sets out the different orders.

Your main question is about support now. What might you be entitled to?

It seems that children services have assessed you but are not providing any support.
If children services were involved in placing your niece with you, then you would be a foster carer and should be paid foster care allowance backdated to when she was placed with you. Often children services will try and dispute this and say it is a private arrangements. See our advice sheet 21a as linked below.

If they were not involved in placing her, then it may be a private arrangement only. If this is the case, you could still ask the social worker to carry out an assessment for support from children services but any support would be in their discretion.
It would also be a good idea to ask the social worker to set out the legal position. What are their expectations of you? How can they help you? What about paying for a nursery place so that you could go back to work, for example?
What is her view about dad taking your niece back as he can do at any time? Would children services be worried about this?
You should also look at your local authority’s friends and family carer’s policy which you should find on their website. By law they must have a policy. We have some of them on the header of the discussion board here.

You could also ask the parents for support and there are state benefits such as child benefit.
Have a look at our advice sheets 21a and 21b about support when children are being cared for by relatives and friends.

The FAQ’s for kinship carers are also very helpful.

I hope this advice helps but if you need further advice and support please post back or you could call our free and confidential advice line on 0808 801 0366 to discuss your situation in more depth.

Best wishes,


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