Keeping families together
Kate’s* grandson Ben* was four when he came to live with her. Her daughter had a chaotic lifestyle and concerns had been raised about Ben’s wellbeing – he was neglected, had poor school attendance and there was violence at home.
Kate and her husband stepped in as kinship foster carers. This was originally intended as a short-term arrangement to keep Ben safe and cared for until his mother’s situation improved. But after a long investigation, a court decided that Ben should not return to his mother.
“Ben could have gone into foster care or be put up for adoption,” recalled Kate. “We couldn’t bear the thought of losing him so we started the process of becoming Special Guardians.”
Special Guardianship means that a child lives with carers who have parental responsibility for them until they are grown up. A Special Guardian is often a grandparent or close relative but can also be a family friend or foster carer.
Norfolk County Council wants children to be looked after within their families, wherever this is safe and in their best interests. The number of Special Guardianships has increased in the county so children who may otherwise have been taken into local authority care benefit from staying with their extended family.
Although the court case and its aftermath were traumatic, Kate believes they made the right decision. “We had to put Ben first. Things are now heading in the right direction – he’s settled down and is making progress at school which is great for his confidence.”
*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.
Support for Special Guardians
Support groups run in Norwich and King's Lynn, with more venues planned. For more information and advice, call 01603 224131.
If a child under 16 (or 18 if the child has a disability) lives with someone who is not a close relative for 28 days or more, Norfolk County Council has to make sure the child is safe and supported. You can let us know about a Private Fostering arrangement by calling 01603 224131 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org