Sometimes a child is unable to live with their birth parent(s) because they may be at risk of harm, they have been “abandoned” by their birth parent(s) or their birth parent(s) are prevented from caring for them for any reason.
It may be that the parent can arrange for a friend or relative to look after the child to help them over a difficult patch.
A child can stay with someone known to them, that is a relative or friend, for up to 28 days on an informal arrangement between the parent(s) and carers.
A close relative (grandparent, aunt or uncle, brother or sister) can look after a child informally for a longer period, but if the carer is not a close relative either the arrangement will become Private Fostering or the child will become 'looked after' by the local authority.
Children’s Services will always help to support an arrangement for the child or young person to live informally with a relative or friend, if possible, in this situation.
If a child living with a relative or friend is assessed as being “in need” then the child and the carer will be able to ask for the same support from Children’s Services available to a birth parent.
Sometimes, Children’s Services may only need to be involved in helping a family sort out such arrangements and no other support may be needed. Providing the child is safe, and no ongoing needs are identified, parents will continue to be legally responsible for supporting their child in these situations.
Sometimes Children’s Services may assess with the parents, child or carer, that some extra support is needed to enable a child to be cared for by a relative or friend when they are unable to be cared for by a birth parent, especially when this prevents a child from needing to be looked after. Providing there is no reason for Children’s Services to share Parental Responsibility, parents continue to be legally responsible for supporting their child in these situations. The support from Children’s Services is in addition to that from parents and any state benefits available.