Kinship

Kinship Care is family, friends or connected persons caring for a child or young person when birth parents are unable to. There are 2 ways in which this can be achieved legally in terms of the following: 

  • Special Guardianship route which is similar to adoption, whereby decision making parental  responsibility for the child/young person is taken with support from the Local Authority only as and when needed. Special Guardianship Orders are granted in court.
  • Connected Persons fostering route whereby assessment, supervision and support is provided as with mainstream foster carers. Decision making parental responsibility is usually held by the Local Authority and Foster Carers are approved through an internal Local Authority process.

Public Law Assessments are when the Local Authority has initiated court proceedings and a Special Guardianship Order assessment is needed as an option for the permanent living arrangement for children.

Private Law applications are when individual family members wish to be assessed as Special Guardians for a child/ren where there is no current Local Authority involvement with the family.

A private fostering arrangement is one that is made privately, without the involvement of a local authority, for someone other than a parent or person with parental responsibility (or a close relative) to care for a child under the age of 16 or under 18 if disabled, for 28 days or more.

Support

Following an assessment and the granting of a Special Guardianship Order,  Special Guardians will keep their assessing social worker if possible, for 12 weeks to help them settle into their new role.

Connected Persons who have been approved at fostering panel will also keep their assessing social worker if possible, who will provide ongoing supervision and support in line with fostering regulations.

The Kinship Team run a duty rota which offers support to any Special Guardians, family members or professionals who phone in for help or advice.

Duty is open Monday to Friday between the hours of 9:00 to 17:00. We are available over email, telephone, and if required can arrange to meet with Special Guardians to discuss their circumstances in more detail.

A Special Guardianship Focus Group has recently been set up. The aim of the focus group is for the Kinship Team to better understand what is working well and what the challenges are for Special Guardians living in Somerset. It is hoped by working together, The Local Authority and Special Guardians will better promote the well-being for the children cared for by Special Guardians.

The Kinship Team are currently working towards offering a Connected Persons Support Group separate to the mainstream fostering support group. This is to ensure specific Connected Persons issues are at the front of the support available.

There are Special Guardian support groups established throughout the county, these are groups run by and for Special Guardians where peer support is shared by those attending.

For details of support groups in your area, please email the Kinship Team duty.

We send out regular newsletters to our carers, to be included in newsletters please email the duty team asking to be included in future newsletters.

We are rolling out ‘Building Skills for Kinship Care Training’ in April 2021 for Connected Persons to replace the mainstream ‘Skills to Foster Induction Training’. This has been set up to address issues directly relating to Connected Persons. Additionally we are in the process of setting up another ‘Building Skills for Kinship Care Training’ which will be directly relating to issues that Special Guardians face when caring for children.

For more information or advice and support on specific issues please phone our Kinship Duty number 01823 358222 or email kinship@somerset.gov.uk

Payments

Kinships and connected persons foster carers will receive the age related weekly fostering allowance that all foster carers receive, whilst the child is in their care. They are as follows:

Age range                                Weekly payment

0-4                                             £146.30

5-10                                           £166.65

11-15                                         £207.56

16+                                            £252.38

During their period of temporary approval, whilst awaiting Panel, Kinship and connected persons carers will receive the age related allowance for the child only, and not the weekly fee. They will only receive the weekly fostering fee upon full approval at Panel. 

Kinship and connected persons foster carers who look after a child related or known to them will usually receive the standard fostering fees, as detailed here.

The Team

The Kinship Team was established in November 2018 to undertake Connected Person (CP) Foster Carer assessments and support as well as Special Guardianship (SG) applications and support.

Due to recent expansion, The Kinship Team have 18 permanent staff posts consisting of an operational manager, 3 team managers one being part time, 4 advanced practitioners, 9 qualified social work posts, 4 senior social work assistant posts and 3 new qualified social workers who started January 2021.

The Kinship Team provides assessment and support for the whole of Somerset and staff are based throughout the county. Due to the  team having recently expanded, we now have capacity to take more  Public Law Special Guardianship Assessments alongside the private law applications.  Additionally, the team are now looking to take all the Private Fostering applications.

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