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Taking Care of Someone Else's Child

There are many reasons why some parents can have difficulties looking after a child of their own. Check out what extra benefits and financial support you can get if you are looking after someone else's child.

FOSTERING A CHILD: Do you have someone else’s child living with you on a full time basis?

The additional challenge of caring for someone else’s child can also create a financial burden. But, extra support and financial help is available from most of the local government authorities.

There are two recognised arrangements for this kind of child care:

  • Family and friends care (also known as kinship care)
  • Private fostering

The first step towards getting help is contacting your local council. They will confirm what services and financial support they can provide for your particular area.

Family and Friends Carers

Not all children get cared for by their birth parents (e.g. grandchildren living with grandparents). Often, a family member or a close friend is taking responsibility for someone else’s child.

These types of kinship carers are also known as a family and friends carer. As a rule, it would be an aunt or uncle, a brother or sister, a grandparent, or a trusted family friend.

The local council may ‘officially’ ask someone to look after the child of another person. But, they will only ask an approved foster carer to take on the role and the responsibilities of doing so.

In case you were wondering:

There is no requirement to tell the council that a child has come to stay with you unless they have asked you to take care of the child.

You can also get further help and advice about giving full-time care to a child. Contact The Family Rights Group or Grandparents Plus.

Grandparents Plus National Charity (England and Wales)
Telephone: 0300 123 7015
1 Addington Square
London SE5 0HF

Note: You might qualify for a charity grant for children and young people from Buttle UK (named after Reverend Frank Buttle).

Private Fostering

The local council would class you as a private foster carer if both of these apply to your situation:

  • You are not one of the child’s close relatives. A close relative would be a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, step-parent, or grandparent.
  • The child is under 16 and you are looking them for more than 28 days in a row (under 18 for a disabled child).

Note: If this type of arrangement applies to your situation you must inform your local council about it.

What Happens Next

The carer and the child will get a visit from a social worker. Their main role is to ensure that the child is safe and getting cared for ‘properly’. Besides offering help and support, the social worker will carry out background checks on the person who is caring for someone else’s child.

Note: Any parent who asks someone other than a close relative to look after their child must inform their local council.

Claiming for Extra Benefits

Among the other benefits that parents can get, a child carer can also apply for Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit.

Caring for Children with Disabilities (learning or behavioural problems)

You can get financial help caring for a disabled child. You can also get extra help with schooling for a child with special educational needs (SEN).

Note: Contact your local council if you need help or support for a child with emotional problems.

Getting Parental Responsibility for a Child

It is quite common for a carer to want to care for the child on a long term basis. In this case, you can get parental responsibility for the child. Thus, you would need to apply for a special guardianship order or a child arrangements order.

In some cases, you may also be able to apply for child adoption. The advantage of having parental responsibility means you would be able to:

Note: The Coram Children’s Legal Centre is a registered charity that offers expert legal advice on children and family issues.

Financial Support for Looking after Someone Else’s Child in the United Kingdom