Families' rights

When a person dies, if they have children it is common for family members to assume care of the children either temporarily or on a long term basis. If you take on the care of a child, you are likely to need financial and other support to help you care for them. There are various sources of support, including specialist agencies, the local council and benefits/tax credits.

Your arrangement could be known as either:

  • Family and friends care (often called kinship care)
  • Private fostering

Family and friends carers

You’re known as a family and friends carer if you’re a grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister or family friend looking after a child who can’t be cared for by their birth parents. You must be approved as a foster carer if the local council has officially asked you to look after a child.

If the local council didn’t ask you to look after the child you don’t have to tell them the child has come to stay with you.

If you’re a grandparent giving full-time care to grandchildren, you can get information from:

The Grandparents Association – support and advice for grandparents caring for grandchildren

Grandparents Plus – advice and support for grandparents looking after grandchildren

Private fostering

You’re a private foster carer if both the following apply:

  • you’re not a close relative, ie grandparent, brother or sister, uncle or aunt or step-parent
  • you’re looking after a child who’s under 16 (under 18 if they’re disabled) for more than 28 days in a row

You must tell your local council about this arrangement.

What to expect

A social worker will visit you and the child to make sure the child is safe and being properly cared for. They can also offer help and support.

You must tell your local council if you’re a parent and you’ve asked someone who isn’t a close relative to look after your child.

Child Benefit

You can apply for Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit and other benefits that parents get.

Children with disabilities, learning and behavioural problems

You can get help if you’re looking after a disabled child. You can get extra help at school for a child with special educational needs (SEN). Your local council can help you find support for a child with emotional problems.

Get parental responsibility for the child

If you want to care for a child long term, you can get parental responsibility for the child by applying for a child arrangements order or special guardianship order. You may also be able to adopt the child.

Family Rights Group – provide advice to parents, grandparents and other relatives and friends about their rights and options

Contact your local council to check what services and financial support they provide.

Taken from the Government's Childcare and Parenting pages looking-after-someone-elses-child

See also