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Could do better…Must do better: A study of family and friends care local authority policies

In 2012 the Government introduced statutory guidance for local authorities on family and friends care. The statutory guidance sets out the requirement for a local authority to publish a family and friends care policy.

“In collaboration with local partners, each local authority with responsibility for children’s services must, no later than 30 September 2011, publish a policy setting out its approach towards promoting and supporting the needs of children living with family and friends carers. The policy must address the needs of children in family and friends care, whether or not they are looked after children, and should be clearly expressed, regularly updated, made freely and widely available and publicised by relevant means, such as websites and leaflets.”

The guidance also included detailed guidelines on what the policy should address and the need for a senior manager in each authority to have overall responsibility for the family and friends care policy.

Chapter 2 of the report sets out in more detail what the guidance covers. The statutory guidance makes clear that children and young people who are unable to live with their parents should receive the support that they and their carers need to safeguard and promote their welfare, whether or not they are looked after

The reality of the current financial climate is that local authorities are having to make cuts, particularly to discretionary services, whilst thresholds to access specialist service are being raised. Meanwhile many family and friends care households, who had to give up work to care for the children and became reliant on benefits, are finding life particularly tough. In such an environment, it is even more imperative that local authorities work in partnership with family and friends carers to deliver the best outcomes for children, make it easy for family and friends carers to access the help that is available and ensure that children do not have to become taken into care in order to receive support.