Kinship carers

This page highlights support and resources for kinship carers - also known as Special Guardians, Family and Friends carers, Connected Persons

Learn about the 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

As part of Kinship Care Week: 5-11 October 2020 we are proud to introduce the Kinship Assessment and Support Team (KAST) which is part of our Family Placement Service, along with Permanence and Foster Care.

Kinship Care Week is organised by the national charity Grandparents Plus to celebrate kinship families, raise awareness of the role of kinship carers and say a big, public THANK YOU!

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 first phase of support will start in October 2020 by way of the delivery of a tailored training session for kinship carers, subscription to Family Action (https://www.family-action.org.uk/what-we-do/children-families/sgs/) and the launch of a support and advice duty phoneline.   It is hoped that the team can launch the more substantive core offer in early 2021. 

Manager Lesley Thompson introduces K.A.S.T. in the short video linked here.

What is a special guardian?

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.

 

How does an SGO benefit the child?

With an SGO, there is no complete legal separation from the child’s birth parents and the child remains within their extended family network. At the time of the courts making a SGO, a support plan will be agreed, to identify what ongoing support you will need, including consideration of financial support.

 

More information

What is included on this page?

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.


What support do we offer? 


The Kinship Assessment and Support Team provides information and guidance to help special guardians in their role.   This includes: 

  • Training 
  • Support Groups
  • Subscription to online support from Family Action
  • Access to Support fund 
  • Newsletters 
  • Helpline 
  • Local service knowledge – signposting

 

Kinship Assessment and Support Team (K.A.S.T.) - the legal parameters


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. 
 

Educational support 


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.  


 

Emotional and behavioural support


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). 

Family time and identity 


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. 

Finances 


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. 

Training


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 
• Attachment 
• Protective behaviours

 

For information to support you and your family contact:

Families are referred to KAST via their local social care team - if you are not already in touch with a social worker, please call our Onecall team on:  01670 536400

The support line is open 10am to 12 noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting 5th October: