Becoming a kinship carer

Find out how you become a kinship carer, and what to expect from the process.

Kinship care is when a child lives all or most of the time with a relative or friend who isn’t their parent, usually because their parents aren’t able to care for them.

How do I become a kinship carer?

Arrangements can be made ‘informally’ between the parent(s) and the relative or friend, or the arrangements can be because of children’s services involvement.

You may be approached by the local authority children’s services department and asked to care for a child when they have been assessed as unable to live at home due to safeguarding reasons. Alternatively, you may express an interest in caring for a relative’s child if they are unable to continue caring for the child due to illness or other reasons. You will normally need to be at least 18 years of age to become a kinship carer.

What is expected of me?

As a kinship carer, you will need to provide a safe, stable, and supportive home for the child in your care and meet their emotional, educational, and social needs.

It is important that the child maintains contact with their family and links with their past, so they can develop a sense of personal identity. You will also need to respect the child’s family background when making decisions about their care and future.

Becoming a kinship carer can feel quite daunting. It is inevitable that you will need to make huge changes to your life and home when you become a kinship carer. But it can be a really rewarding experience for you, as well as the child you are caring for.

First steps

As a first step you will need to understand what being a kinship carer means for you and your family.

There are many different types of kinship care. You may become a different type of kinship carer as your situation changes over time. Your rights, responsibilities, and the support you can get will depend on your specific circumstances. Therefore, it is essential to seek legal advice as early as possible.

You can also read our guide on preparing to be a kinship carer. This will help you to make the right decisions for you, your family, and the child you will be caring for.

Support from Kinship

Here at Kinship, we offer a range of free support for all kinship carers, including workshopsonline advice and information, and peer support groups.
Contact our advice service to speak to an adviser or book an appointment.