Decisions about how a child is raised can only be made by someone who has parental responsibility for them. Who has parental responsibility will vary according to the legal status of the child. It is therefore important to know the legal status of a child who is living with you, so you know who can make decisions about the child. It is also important for you to know whether social workers have to be involved, and how to ask them for help if you need it.
If the child was not placed with you by a social worker, then it is very likely to be a private arrangement between you and the child’s parents. In this case, you cannot make important decisions about how the child is raised because you do not have Parental Responsibility for the child. The only people with parental responsibility for the child are likely to be the child’s mother and father. This means that you have to check with them about a lot of things you do with the child. For example, you might need to check with them that it was all right for the child to go on a school trip. Also they could take the child home even if you don’t agree, whenever they like.
If the child was placed with you by the social worker, they may well be looked after, so Children’s Services are responsible for making decisions about the child but they will also need the agreement of one of the parents or others with parental responsibility or the child themselves if they are 16 or 17 unless they have a care order or emergency protection order. Find out more information here.
- If the child is looked after with the agreement of the parents (or others with parental responsibility) and there is no court order, the child is accommodated. You should be approved as a foster carer for them. Children’s Services are responsible for making important decisions about the child but they also need the agreement of one of the parents or others with parental responsibility or the child themselves if they are 16 or 17. If the parents do not agree, the social worker may consider the question is so important that they should apply for a court order to give them parental responsibility. Find out more information here.
- If the child is under a care order or emergency protection order, and you are caring for them as an approved foster carer, Children’s Services has parental responsibility for the child. They can therefore make most major decisions about the child even if the parents (and you) don’t agree. Find out more information here.
- If you now have a Residence Order or Special Guardianship Order for the child, you have parental responsibility for the child. You can therefore make most major decisions about the child although in some situations you will need the agreement of everyone with parental responsibility to take them abroad. See here for more information.