This page highlights support and resources for kinship carers - also known as Special Guardians, Family and Friends carers, Connected Persons
Please note this page is in development and information may change
The Kinship Assessment and Support Team (KAST) is part of our Residential and Family Placement Service, along with Permanence and Foster Care.
Our Kinship, Assessment and Support Team (KAST) has been created to respond to the need for dedicated assessment and support to special guardians and their families.
The team deliver tailored training for kinship carers, offer a subscription to Family Action (https://www.family-action.org.uk/what-we-do/children-families/sgs/) and offer a support and advice duty phoneline to families.
Here is a video from the KAST team manager talking about the launch of the team in 2020:
Manager Lesley Thompson introduces K.A.S.T. in the short video linked here.
A special guardian is someone appointed to care for a child following a special guardianship order (SGO) being granted by the court. This is a private law order made under the Children Act 1989 and it is intended for those children who cannot live with their birth parents however provides greater security than long term fostering.
The special guardian will have parental responsibility for the child, allowing them to make parenting decisions in the child’s best interest.
This webpage includes information about practical, emotional and financial support for carers who have an SGO for a child previously looked after by Northumberland County Council.
Support may also be available to carers where there was previously intensive involvement from Northumberland County Council with a child or family.
The quality of care provided to children following a court order is important to ensure a child can continue to thrive and develop into adulthood. Northumberland County Council’s Kinship Assessment and Support Team want to support special guardians to enable them to provide a high quality of care for children in a suitable, safe and healthy environment.
The website will help anyone providing care to access the support they need to manage a range of situations throughout the placement so they do not feel that they are doing things alone.
The Kinship Assessment and Support Team provides information and guidance to help special guardians in their role. This includes:
We can provide carers with support in cases where the child was previously Looked After (LAC status) by Northumberland County Council before the SGO was granted, and where this order was granted in the last 3 years.
When the 3 year period from the making of the SGO has expired, the Local Authority where the Special Guardian lives is responsible for providing support services.
All special guardians have a support plan which is agreed at the granting of the order. Support plans include help for the children placed, their carer and family and the child’s birth family. The plans are based around the needs of those involved but typically include details regarding health, education, emotions, identity, finance and housing.
Under a special guardian order children will continue to have priority for school admissions and will still receive pupil premium. For children in Northumberland, involvement of the Virtual School will continue or the Kinship Assessment and Support Team will help people access schools in other areas.
The Kinship Assessment and Support Team can offer training or advice to special guardians to find information about a range of emotional issues. It can also signpost to health and education services or carer support groups so people can share their experiences. More specialist support may be available to make applications for funding for specific therapies (if qualifying criteria is met).
The Kinship and Assessment and Support Team can offer advice around any issues with family time arrangements and support special guardians in ensuring that children build a sense of identity. KAST can do this through supporting special guardians to understand the importance of life story work, and assisting them to complete training in this area.
The Kinship Assessment and Support Team can advise about any financial support that special guardians may be eligible for and any necessary assessments. In order to provide relevant advice KAST expects special guardians to report any change to circumstances which could affect the support on offer.
All families going through an assessment will have access to a half day preparation course to support the start of your journey to becoming a Special Guardian.
The team will soon be offering a wide range of online and face to face training opportunities, topics are expected to include:
• Making placements work
• Child protection and safeguarding
• Emergency paediatric first aid
• Protective behaviours
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