Heather* stepped in to raise her young grandson in December 2016 as his parents were no longer able to look after him, She gave up work to look after him having been promised financial support by the local authority.
Her grandson was classed as a ‘looked after child’ so the local authority had a duty to assess and pay Heather as a foster carer as soon as they placed her grandson in her care. While they did the kinship foster carer assessment, Heather received a weekly fostering allowance.
Following the kinship foster carer assessment, Heather was advised that she had failed and that she would need to apply to the court for a Special Guardianship Order. The local authority stopped the fostering allowance payments because she failed the assessment. However, she still continues to care for her grandson.
Heather was devastated, she’d given up employment to care for her grandson and the family were struggling to live off her husband’s income. Not knowing what to do, Heather got in touch with us, and said:
“We never know where to turn, so I am asking you if you know of anything that can help us through this difficult financial time. I feel like we are somehow being punished when all we are trying to do is a good, decent thing for our grandson. If you can help us in any way, we would be most grateful. Spirits are very low at the moment, as well as dealing with everything we already do on a daily basis”.
Our advice team advised Heather that the fostering allowance payments should not have stopped, even if she failed the kinship foster assessment. We signposted Heather for some independent legal advice from the Grandparents Legal Centre, who confirmed our advice.
Following a complaint through the local authority’s complaints procedure, Heather received a backdated payment of fostering allowance, which amounted to £22,000. In addition to this, the weekly fostering allowance payments were reinstated.
Following this success, Heather wrote to say: “I would just like to say a huge thank you to Grandparents Plus for all the advice I was given and for putting me in touch with the Grandparents Legal Centre! My grandson came to live with me 2 years and 9 months ago and we had fostering allowance paid for the first 6 months and then it was stopped. I went for over 2 years without payments but after seeking legal advice through you, I have now had the money backdated at a sum of over £22,000 and I shall be getting a weekly fostering allowance from now on! It only took a few weeks to sort everything out too, so it is a huge relief as we received money today!
“It now means we can give our grandson everything he needs, as well as well overdue home improvements and treats that we couldn’t previously afford due to me giving up my job to become my grandson’s carer! Thank you so, so much, my family and I are most grateful for the help we received”.
*Not her real name
Our Advice Service is small but mighty. We have three advice workers who are supported by volunteers, and between them they help 1,000s of kinship carers every year. Public support is vital to keep the Advice Service open. If you are in a position where you could support us, please donate what you can here. Thank you.