Kinship carer in Scotland in 2022: your benefits and rights

8 December 2022 by Robin - 10 minutes of reading time

kinship carer Scotland

What is a kinship carer in Scotland? Can they get benefits? What is considered kinship care? Can I get help from local councils? You may be taking care of a child or children. Then, you may be eligible for certain rights and benefits. Your Benefits will tell you everything you need to know about being a kinship carer in Scotland.

Who can be a kinship carer?

You may live in Scotland. Then, you could be a kinship carer. More specifically, a kinship carer is someone (friend or family member) caring for a child in Scotland. In fact, this may be because the parents of the child are no longer able to care for them.

You may be thinking of foster care or adoption. Note that these differ from kinship care, as they are not the same.

Let’s say that you are caring for a child, the reason being that their parents are having a drinking problem. Furthermore, you are their uncleaunt, grandparent or family friend. If the child moved in with you and you live in Scotland, you are likely a kinship carer.

You do no have to be related to the child in order to be a kinship carer in Scotland. However, you need to already have a relationship with the child in question.

Information and advice for kinship foster carers for informal arrangements can be done for kinship care arrangements. In fact, birth parents whose children was born more than 28 days afterwards, as well as family and friends carer and family and friends care (especially those who care full time) can give care orders. This includes grandparents, aunts and uncles. Your local authority, private foster carers can make child arrangments order.

What rights does a kinship carer have?

Who can be a kinship carer?

You may be a kinship carer in Scotland. If that is the case, you could get help and advice from your local council. In fact, this could even include financial help. Keep in mind that you should only be a kinship carer if you are confident that you could take care of a child. You should not be pressured into doing so. 

Note that you may contact the local council legally responsible for the child that you are caring for. However, this may not be the local council linked with your area. Indeed, this is likely the case if the child in question was from another area, and came to live with you. Then, talk to the appropriate local council.

Additionally, you may be dissatisfied with the way that the local council treated you. If that is the case, you can make a complaint.

Kinship carer rights for looked after children

You may wish to be a kinship carer in Scotland. However, what you need to do, as well as what you are entitled to depends on certain factors. In fact, your rights and responsibilities are greatly affected by if the child is Looked After. More specifically, if that is true by their local council.

The child you are caring for may not be Looked After by their local council. If that is the case, you could be considered an ‘informal kinship carer’.

But what does it mean for a child to be Looked After? There are some children put in kinship care that are Looked After by their local council. It is a legal term. 

Note that being Looked After by a local council is a legal determination. It does not mean that the needs of the child are taken care of by the local council, like being provided clothes and food. Most of the time, it simply is a legal determination, and is important in order to know what you are entitled to.

Typically, local councils will be more likely to provide help for a child if that child is considered as being Looked After. Additionally, whether a child is looked after or not also determines the financial aid that you may be eligible for. Indeed, you could receive more if the child is considered as being Looked After.

There are parental rights that a local council may have for a child. In fact, this is the case if the child is Looked After by that same local council. This is the case even if you are the person caring for the child.

How can a child become Looked After? 

A child becoming Looked After, which could benefit you as a kinship carer in Scotland, is a result of a legal decision. More specifically, this decision needs to be taken by a local councilChildren’s Hearing or court.

Additionally, this decision can be taken when it is no longer evident that a child can be cared for by their parent(s). However, it can also be taken when the well-being of the child is at risk.

Furthermore, the fact of whether a child is Looked After or not can change. Indeed, a local council may stop being the one ‘looking after’ a child. Then, this could change your ‘parental responsibilities‘ for the child, and your entitlements. Additionally, the local council linked with the child may still be responsible for them.

Contact the children’s services or social work department to find out if a child is Looked After or not. Additional, request for an answer to be given in writing, in order to have a tangible record of it.

You could be a kinship carer for more than one child. In this case, note that not each child may or may not be Looked After. Additionally, you can notify the National Kinship Care Advice service for Scotland helpline, or the Citizens Advice Bureau if you have any other questions.

What to do if a child is looked after

If the child is Looked After by a local council, certain things should be true. The child should be able to access education (and help with their education), and be in a situation where they are safe. Additionally, they should have a child plan.

What is a child plan? This is a document that is made with the supervision of the child’s local council. In fact, it documents who should take care of the daily needs of the child.

As a kinship carer, certain things would be true for you as well. Indeed, you would need to be filled in on what your possibilities and rights are. This includes financial and practical help that the local council can provide. 

Additionally, as a kinship carer, you would help create the child plan. Indeed, you also have to accept to cooperate with social work, in order to make sure that the needs of the child are met. Lastly, the local council needs to help you through this process.

Finally, the local council also has responsibilities. In fact, they need to tell the kinship carer of everything they are entitled to. They should pay a kinship care allowance to the kinship carer. Furthermore, they need to make sure that the child plan is made. Finally, they need to assess the risks for the child.

Kinship carer benefits

What rights does a kinship carer have?

There are some financial help you could be eligible to receive if you are a kinship carer. In Scotland, local councils need to pay kinship carers kinship care allowance. This would help covering the costs that arise with caring for the child. Furthermore, not that you may get this even if the child is not Looked After.

If you are a kinship carer, you could receive kinship care allowance at the same rate that you would get the local fostering allowance. Indeed, this is regardless of whether the child is Looked After or not.

You may already receive a kinship care allowance. Then, your local council will contact you. In fact, this is to make sure that you get the same payment, but as a foster carer. This is for the specific area you live in.

If you are a kinship carer for a child that is looked after, you cannot receive the Child Element of Universal Credit. Additionally, how much you could get as a foster carer depends greatly on if you receive Child Tax Credit or Child Benefit.

Kinship carer additional benefits

There are other benefits you could receive, like Pension Credit and Housing Benefit. Additionally, you may have a permanence order. In this case, you could be able to claim the child addition of Pension Credit. However, contact your Local Citizens Advice Bureau to learn more, as there are a lot of different rules.

There are two other benefits you are likely able to get: Scottish Child Payment and Best Start Grant

Scottish Child Payment is a benefit for those living in Scotland. Additionally, the parent or carer needs to have a child younger than 6 years old. Furthermore, the parents need to be on a low income

The Best Start Grant is a benefit for parents or carers as well. It consists of 3 different payments. In fact, this is to help families on a low income to pay for the costs that may arise by having a child. Additionally, you will be able to claim this at the same time as Best Start Foods.

Best Start Grant Payments eligibility in 2022
Period of application What will I be eligible for?
Either as soon as you know you are pregnant, or before your child turns 3 years old Best Start Foods
Between the 24th week of your pregnancy and the day your child turns 6 months old. If you are looking after a child you have not given birth to, before the child’s first birthday Best Start Grant: Pregnancy and Baby Payment
While your child is between 2 years old and 3 years and 6 months old Best Start Grant: Early Learning Payment
In the year that your child is first old enough to start school.  Best Start Grant: School Age Payment

Kinship carer for a not looked after child

If you are a kinship carer in Scotland, you could want to stop the child from being Looked After by the local council. In fact, this could give you more option in order to care for the child. If you wish to do so, you may contact their local council.

Additionally, note that you should ask about certain things. First, on the benefits you will and will no longer be able to get. Second, on whether you will still be able to receive kinship care allowance or not. Third, of the implications of a Residence order or Permanence order.

You may be the ‘informal’ kinship carer for a not Looked After child. If that is the case, you could still receive a kinship care allowance. However, you need to have a residence order. Indeed, this is for you and for the child. Additionally, one of the following needs to apply to the child, they:

  • Were or currently are in kinship placement because of their local council;
  • Previously were Looked After, but no longer are;
  • Would be Looked After if you did not care for them.

What other benefits could I receive for kinship care?

There are a number of benefits that you may be able to get. Indeed, you could get Scottish Child Payment if the child is younger than 6 and you are on a low income. Furthermore, you could get a Best Start Grant if you are on a low income, which would help covering the costs of the child. 

If you are on a low income, you could also claim the child element of Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit, or the child addition in Pension Credit if you are over State Pension age. Finally, regardless of income, you could claim Child Benefit.

Additionally, you could be the kinship carer of a newborn baby. More specifically, the child needs to be between 0 and 6 months old. Then, you could apply for a Baby Box for them. Indeed, to do so, ask your appointed social worker

The Baby Box scheme can provide various items for a newborn baby. In fact, this includes an underarm thermometer, clothes, a mattress, fitted sheet, mattress protector and a changing mat.

Robin is a writer for Your Benefits, writing about aids that people may be entitled to. He is currently working on his Master in journalism at the Institut Supérieur de Formation au Journalisme in Lille.

Ask our experts a question

Our algorithm calculates which grants you are eligible to apply for.

Simulate your benefits