What is a Connected Persons carer?
When parents have difficulties at home, their child may need to be looked after by someone else. For example: a relative, friend or other person who is connected to the child. These arrangements can be made directly between parents and their relatives or friends or a social worker may be involved. This is sometimes called a kinship care arrangement.
If the social worker is concerned that the child is suffering significant harm and does not believe it is safe for the child to remain in the parents’ home, they can go to court for a legal order or agree with parents for the child to become ‘looked after’ in the care of the local authority. For all children in care, Warwickshire County Council is committed to placing children with a relative, friend or connected person to the child, before considering placing them with an unrelated foster carer, unless that is not in the child’s best interests. This can be a short-term arrangement or maybe on a permanent basis; it can also be done in an emergency.
If you are a family member, friend or other connected person and the child is placed with you when they are ‘looked after’ by Warwickshire County Council, you will be assessed as a Connected Persons foster carer. Connected Persons carers are sometimes called Family and Friends or kinship carers.
What will I need to do?
If you would like to become a Connected Persons carer, you can put yourself forward to be assessed or you could be asked by the child’s family. If this happens, a viability assessment is undertaken with you by a social worker. The viability assessment aims to get a snapshot of your family situation and identifies if you may be able to meet the requirements and expectations of becoming a foster carer or kinship carer.
In some situations, if it is in the child’s best interests, you can be given temporary approval as a family and friends foster carer after a short assessment. This is done to prevent the child/ren from being placed with carers that they do not know and when there is a good option within their own family network where they can be kept safe (this is sometimes referred to as a regulation 24 placement). A social worker will complete an assessment prior to the child/ren being placed with you. If the assessment recommends that you are to become a Temporary Foster Carer a full assessment is then completed. The local authority has 16 weeks to fully assess you as a family and friends foster carer before this temporary approval runs out. The temporary approval means that in this period you have the same entitlement to support and supervision and the same responsibilities as a fully approved carer.
What happens during the Connected Persons assessment?
The assessment involves a social worker from the Connected Persons Team talking with you and gaining information to establish if a placement with you is in the child’s best interests. The social worker will also undertake checks and references from a number of people. The social worker will visit you to do health and safety checks of your house and pet assessments (if you have any).
Checks will include:
- Personal references from 3 or more people who know you.
- A check with the local authority where you live and have previously lived.
- A medical examination by your GP.
- Disclosure and Barring Service DBS checks (previously known as CRB checks) on all adults in the household.
- And other references depending on your specific situation i.e. employment, school or ex partners who have parented with you.
The assessment is not just a process for the social worker to gather information about you. It is also to help you to think though the practicalities and impact that having a child/ren can have on you and your family. Additionally, if there are issues identified during your assessment, support can be offered or suggestions made to help you with this. The full assessment will take approximately 8-12 weeks, though the number of visits needed vary from person to person – on average a social worker would spend 12 hours gathering information from you.
The social worker who does the assessment will write a report which you will be asked to contribute to. The social worker will make a recommendation about if you should become an approved foster carer. This report is then sent to the fostering panel. You will be able to read and comment on this before the assessment goes to panel.
What will I receive in return?
As a connected person’s foster carer, you will receive:
- Excellent training and an opportunity to undertake a QCF Diploma for the Children’s Workforce after a qualifying period.
- Access to a wide range of training programmes.
- Above national average financial allowances.
- Support from social work professionals who will be there to help and offer advice.
- Opportunities for peer support and networking.
- Access to 24-hour support via the foster care support line and emergency duty team.