Family and Friends Carers

Family and Friends Carers

Family and friends have a unique and vital role in caring for children and young people whose own parents are unable to care for them.

What is a family and friends carer?

A ‘family and friends carer’ is a relative, friend or other person known to the child or young person who cares for that child full time.  Family and Friends Carers are sometimes called “kinship carers”

There are a number of ways in which children can live with people other than their birth parents this can include:

Private Fostering

A privately fostered child is a child under 16 (or 18 if disabled) who is cared for by an adult who is not a parent or close relative, where the child is to be cared for in that home for 28 days or more.   

A close relative is defined as ‘a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step-parent’.  It does not include a child who is in local authority care.

In a private fostering arrangement, the parent still holds parental responsibility and agrees the arrangement with the private foster carer and is responsible for any financial payments in respect of the child. 

Read our Private Fostering Procedure.

Family and Friends Foster Carer

When a child comes into our care, often the best plan is for them to live with a family member or someone else the child knows well. This person is often described as a ‘connected person’ or a 'kinship carer'.  If the Local Authority ‘place’ a child with a connected person, they must assess the carer against the National Fostering Standards. 

Read more about our Fostering arrangements

Special Guardianship Orders

A special guardian formally takes on the legal powers and responsibility of parenting a child until their 18th birthday.   Whilst a Special Guardianship Order does not remove parental rights and responsibilities from birth parents, the special guardian does have the authority to make decisions to do with the child’s upbringing, including where the child lives and goes to school, and what medical treatment they receive.

Relatives, friends or foster carers may apply for a special guardianship order after living with the child for one year, or sooner with the leave of the court.

Child Arrangement Orders

A Child Arrangement Order gives parental responsibility to the person named in the Order as the person with whom a child is to live.  Parental responsibility remains shared with the parents following the making of a Child Arrangement Order.

Support for Family and Friends Carers

Taking on the care of a friend or relatives’ child will often mean significant change for the carer and can impact upon the carers own family and financial circumstances.

Before considering taking on a commitment to a child, carers should access information about the level of support, including any financial assistance, that they may be offered.  The types of support that are available to different Family and Friends carers is set out in our Family and Friends Care Policy.

Helpful Contacts

Our dedicated Family and Friends Carers Team can be contacted by telephone 0191 277 2500 (available Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm) or by email  Our team of professionals will be able to offer advice and guidance to help family and friends carers in their caring role.

Did you know?

You can read our Family and Friends Care Policy to find more information about the support available to Family and Friends Carers.

Need more information?

Telephone the Family and Friends Carers Teams on 0191 277 2500 (available Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm) or email them at  

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