Scenario 4 – Child living with sponsor in England without parent or legal guardian
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Legal responsibilities and status:
The local authority will need to complete a private fostering assessment and see evidence that the sponsor is personally known to the family, including whether the boy has any pre-existing relationship with him. As the sponsor is not a close relative this is a private fostering arrangement and statutory private fostering procedures must be followed on an ongoing basis.
The local authority will need to gather, and take into account, the mother and the boy’s (as age appropriate) wishes and feelings. The local authority need to involve the mother in the private fostering assessment and ensure she is involved as much as possible in the continuing support for her son and any decision-making.
Parental responsibility remains with the mother. The father will retain parental responsibility if he has it, although it is not being exercised as he cannot be contacted. It may be possible to obtain background information on the situation of the child from Ukraine, which may include contact details for the father, via a request for co-operation under 1996 Hague Convention Art 34, subject to the capacity of the Ukrainian Central Authority. Background information may assist with identifying the boy’s needs.
Local authorities will need to consider how to support the child and his carer. They will need to consider the Family and Friends Care Statutory Guidance, particularly what their local Family and Friends Care policy says about what support might be available to them.
Given the boy’s age and absence of any family members in the UK, the local authority may wish to consider assessing the family under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 (child in need). They might be able to support the boy and his carer under a child in need plan.
The sponsor can apply for child benefit and may also be eligible for other benefits such as universal credit.
The local authority will need to involve the school and universal health services such as school nursing, to ensure the child’s needs are being met.
The local authority can consider any other offers of universal or targeted support that may be available, including any community resources that are available to support Ukrainian families.
The local authority can signpost the sponsor and the boy to potential therapeutic support from Barnardo’s Ukrainian Support Helpline and share the resources regarding the impact of war, loss and trauma.