Family and friends who care for children

Relatives and close friends play an important part in children’s lives. They become even more important when parents are not able to care for their child.

Sometimes children live with wider family or friends who become their main carers. Family and friend carers include grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters or family friends. These are usually private arrangements within the family. It avoids the child going into care and the parents keep parental responsibility.

  • If it’s a relative this is called informal kinship care. It doesn’t involve the council and carers get financial support from the parents or from tax relief or the benefits system.
  • If it’s not a relative, it is private fostering. You must tell the council.

Sometimes the local authority is involved because a child is not safe in the care of the parents. The child needs to be cared for by someone else while the parents get help. This may become a permanent arrangement if the parents can’t improve their care.

We have a number of leaflets to explain how we support family and friends carers:

Family and friends values and policy statement
Help for family and friends carers
What makes a suitable family and friends carer

Government guidance and the law

Looking after someone else’s child – GOV.UK