Advice - caring for my niece

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Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:44 am

Advice - caring for my niece

Post by NGL14 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:32 pm


I am looking for some advice. Me and my partner are looking after our niece and have been now for 8 weeks.

My niece has been under social service watch list for sometime now, a number of years to cut a long story short. It’s all come to a head, and my niece has spoken out and no longer wants to be at home. She is 12 children’s services have asked us to apply for a child arrangement order. We have done this and we have the hearing in the next couple of weeks. We have been supporting supervised contact with the mother for a number of weeks. Which has been stressful, children’s services have asked for the benefits to be handed over to us but this hasn’t happened.

I am looking for some advice as to what we could be entitled to, as of yet we have not been awarded PR but this will be soon we have the support of CS.

Both me and my partner do work full time but a big chunk of our salary are paid out to historic debt and we are struggling a little financially, it’s soon to be her 13th Birthday and Christmas and I am worried how we will cope financially? Is there anything we can claim for? Or get some help?

Thanks in advance for any help or advice.

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

Re: Advice - caring for my niece

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:30 pm

Dear NGL14

Welcome to the family and friends carers’ discussion board and thank you for your post.

My name is Suzie, online adviser at Family Rights Group.

You have been looking after your niece for a couple of months now but you do not say whether children’s services has assessed you and your partner as foster carers which is what should have happened if they placed your niece in your care. In fact, even if a social worker did not actually bring her to your home if they played a major role in her being in your care then they should consider her a looked after child. Children's services should pay you from the date the came into your care and this payment can be backdated.

The legal position is that children’s services cannot remove a child from their parent or a person with parental responsibility without consent or a court order. It may be that your niece’s parents agreed with you that she could stay with you and, in those circumstances, children’s services might refer to it as a private family arrangement. However, if your niece was in a situation where she needed to be cared for in an emergency, then it could be argued that it is not a private family arrangement.

You have not given enough information in your post for me to advise you on whether it is a private arrangement or not. Your niece, you say, has been on children's services 'watch list' for some time. Do you mean she is subject to a child protection plan?

If you niece is considered a ‘looked after’ child then children’s services should have carried out an emergency assessment when she was first placed and now carry out a full regulation 334 assessment of you as a foster carer and pay the appropriate fostering allowance which, depending on where you in England could be at a minimum between £164 and £190 per week. I think you might find it helpful to read our advice sheets Relatives and friends taking on the care of a vulnerable child in an emergency and Support for relatives and friends who are looking after someone else’s child.

If you are having financial difficulties caring for your niece you can ask children’s services to carry out a child in need assessment and request financial assistance under s.17 for now until your niece’s legal status is resolved.

You have asked about being awarded parental responsibility (PR). Have you already made application to the court for a child arrangement order? This is the process by which you can apply for a child arrangement order. It is important that you understand that if you take on caring for your niece in this way it will be your responsibility to care for her until she is 18 unless that order is discharged by the court. I would suggest you look into whether she can be a looked after child with children’s services having some responsibility whilst her mother and her father (if he has parental responsibility) continue to have parental responsibility. You would be her foster carer.
Children’s services have duties to children who are looked after in the care system as you will see from this advice sheet Duties on Children’s Services when children are in the care system. You can also ask the social worker for a copy of the local authority’s policy on family and friends carers.

It may be that you wish to have parental responsibility for your niece and, if so, then as stated above you can apply to the court. Her parents will be able to oppose your application should they wish. Please read DIY Child Arrangements Orders: information for family and friends carers. You can ask for children's services to assess you for financial support under a child arrangement order and ensure that this is done before the court order is made if you decide to go down this route.

Should you wish to speak to an adviser about your situation, please do telephone our advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open from 9.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday.

I hope this is helpful.

Best wishes


Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:44 am

Re: Advice - caring for my niece

Post by NGL14 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:51 am

Thanks for your reply Suzie,

We have applied to the court for a CAO yes, this was applied for over 7 weeks ago now. Children’s services have done a background check on us and asked us would we look after our neice.

Our neice has another sibling which he is currently under PR via an ICO. My neice’s father is unknown so that wasn’t an option.

We have now been made 3rd party to legal proceedings with her brother, a section 37 has been requested and me and my partner have been told the court has requested an SGO. We have a viability assessment this week, and court case will be on the 23rd. That’s all we have been told, apart from applyfor child benefit.

Currently for my.neice there is no ruling in place at the moment so the Mum can come and take her if she wishes but there is an order that she can not remove her brother from his dads care as he does have an order. We applied for the order but it seems to be taking so long. Only now we are involved in the brothers proceedings as one case.

Both children were subject to a CPO yes, CS asked us beingbthe aunt and the father of sibling to apply to court to remove to speed things up, that’s why we applied for CAO’s I hope this all makes sense as it’s new to me.

I fully understand that it will be a long time situation caring for me neice and I accept that, I could not see her be looked after by anyone else.

Thanks for giving advise

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