If you are caring for, or you want to care for, someone else’s child, you need to know who to ask. Normally, you would ask the parents who have parental responsibility for their child. However, sometimes others have parental responsibility too and if social workers are worried about a child they also have responsibilities to make sure children are safe. So, who you ask about caring for the child will depend on the child circumstances and legal situation.
- If social workers are very worried about a child, they might have asked the parent to agree to their child living somewhere else for a while; or, if the they don’t agree, they may have asked the court to make a Care Order, an Interim Care Order or an Emergency Protection Order which gives children’s services the right to make decisions about how a child is looked after even if the parents don’t agree. In either situation, social workers can, and must, make a lot of the important decisions about the child including who looks after them. So if you want to look after the child in these circumstances, you will need to speak to the social worker about it. However, if the case is still in court, the social workers might still have to ask the judge about some of the decisions.
- Sometimes it is the parents rather than social workers who has arranged for their child to live somewhere else. This is known as a private arrangement. In this situation, there is no legal order, and the parents have parental responsibility for their child. So you would need to speak to them about whether you can look after the child.
- Occasionally someone who is already caring for another person’s child (whether they were asked to by the social worker or by the parents) may have asked the court to make a Residence Order or a Special Guardianship Order for the child. If they have one of these orders, then they will have parental responsibility so you would need ask them if you can look after the child.
- Alternatively the child might have been adopted. In this situation the child will have become the legal child of the adopters and their ties with their parents and family will have been cut. In this situation you would need to ask the adopters if you could look after the child.