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Family Connections Service

Assessment, preparation and support for family and friends carers

Hampshire Children’s Services is developing a new Family Connections Service. This service will bring together the team who assess family and friends carers (previously known as the Connected Carers Assessment Team) and will grow to provide support for carers too.

This page will be updated throughout the next 12 months to include helpful information, resources and links to find out more. We will work with family and friends carers to develop this service to make sure it meets their needs.

If you are a family and friends carer and need help, or would like to find out more about what family and friends care involves, please contact us: 0300 555 1384

Definitions

Family Connections Service: The team who assess Connected Carers and their single point of contact for guidance, signposting and support.

Connected carers: Prospective and approved carers who have a connection to a child

Connected Foster Carers: Connected carers who are approved Foster Carers

Special Guardians: Those that have a Special Guardianship Order

What is Connected Care?

Connected care means that children whose parents are unable to look after them on a short or long term basis are cared for by other relatives, like grandparents, uncles or siblings, or by other adults who have a connection to the child, such as neighbours or a close friend of the family.

Most children in connected care are not "looked after" by a local authority, but some are.

Connected care may be a permanent arrangement, sometimes formalised through a legal order, or a temporary and informal one. 

Different kinds of Connected Care

Connected care includes children who may be:

  • living in informal arrangements made by their birth parents with a close relative, or by default, for example because their birth parent has died or abandoned them
  • living with private foster carers 
  • looked after by the local authority and placed with kinship foster carers who will need to be approved as foster carers
  • on a "Child Arrangement Order" or "Special Guardianship Order" granted by the court
  • in arrangements which are due to lead to adoption by a relative or friend
  • living with testamentary guardians when a parent has died

Depending on the specific circumstances, connected carers will have different rights, responsibilities and support available to them.

What are the benefits of Connected Care?

Connected care gives children:

  • some stability without legally separating them from their birth parents
  • the chance to build a firm foundation for a lifelong permanent relationship
  • the opportunity to remain within their extended family network and potentially return home to their birth family.

Because of their existing relationship or connection with the child, connected carers often feel more motivated to manage tricky situations or go through approval or legal procedures in order to provide a consistent, secure and loving home for the child.

Special Guardianship

A Special Guardian is usually someone with a close relationship to the child (e.g a family member). They need to apply to the court which will consider their suitability and the child's needs, based on a report from the local authority.

Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is a formal court order which places a child or young person with someone permanently and gives this person parental responsibility for the child. This parental responsibility is still shared with the child's parents, unlike adoption, but Special Guardians have primary parental responsibility whereby they can override the wishes and feelings of parents if they believe it is in the child's best interests.

Who can be a special guardian?            

  • A local authority foster carer and the child has lived with them for at least one year preceding the application
  • If the child has lived with them for three of the last five years (and the child has not stopped living with them more than three months before the application)
  • the guardian of the child (they do not need to be related to the child)
  • If they have the consent of those who have parental responsibility for the child
  • If they have the consent of the local authority if the child is looked after
  • If they have a Child Arrangements Order or a Residence Order in respect of the child and they have the consent of the person in whose favour the Order was made
  • If they have permission from the court to make the application

If you are intending to make a private application to become a special guardian, you can notify the Family Connections Service via this form.

Useful Websites

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