Can kinship carers get financial support?
Kinship carers often don’t know that they are entitled to financial support when caring for their relatives. Unfortunately, this is not always something that the Local Authority makes clear. Often in fact, the Local Authority tell carers that they are not entitled to any support because of their relationship to the child. This is completely wrong.
If the Local Authority make the arrangements for a relative’s child to live in your care, the Local Authority are responsible for supporting that placement.
As soon as they place the child, the Local Authority should begin assessing you as a foster carer and pay a fostering allowance. Fostering allowances should be paid regardless of your income. Allowances are usually paid in age related increments, with a minimum weekly allowance set by the government; the older the child, the bigger the allowance.
What is a fostering allowance?
A fostering allowance is guaranteed for as long as you remain a foster carer for the child up until the child reaches the age of 18. Not only is a carer entitled to the fostering allowance which is for covering the cost of caring for the child, each Local Authority will usually pay additional allowances for the child’s birthday, Christmas and an extra payment for the holiday paid in Summer. Most Local Authorities also pay fee allowances for carers when they have completed a required amount of training. These are payments for the carer and there are usually different payments based on a carer’s experience. Everything that mainstream foster carers are entitled to receive, related carers should also be entitled to.
Financial support for other legal orders
Local Authorities tend to ask carers to consider applying for a private law Order; a Child Arrangements Order or a Special Guardianship Order. If either of these Orders is granted, entitlement to allowances changes slightly. The Local Authority should still assess you for an allowance under either of these Orders, however, the allowances will be means tested. This is completely different to a fostering allowance which as stated above, is a non means tested payment. The Local Authority will, in the case of both a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship Order, take into account your weekly or monthly income and make deductions from the fostering allowance dependent on how much income you receive and capital you have.
Allowances under private law Orders are also annually reviewable so should your circumstances change, so might your allowance. It is important to check the policy of your Local Authority as some Council’s only pay allowance under these Orders for a time limited period.