Family and friends care is an arrangement where a child who cannot be cared for by a parent or someone with parental responsibility goes to live with a relative, a friend or a connected person.

Most children are brought up by one or more of their parents, but many children in the UK are cared for full time by a relative, friend, or other person previously connected with the child.

The philosophy of Dorset Council (the council) in regard to Children’s Social Care is that in the great majority of cases families and friends should be allowed and will be able to make suitable arrangements for the care of children known to them without any intervention by the council. This informs the actions of the council, as outlined in this policy, regarding the important distinctions between a child placed by the council, a child whose parents or those with parental responsibility have made arrangements for family members or friends to care for their child and a Friends or Family Foster Carer (carers who are planned to be or have been assessed and approved by the council for ‘Looked After Children’).

These arrangements are covered by a range of different legal statuses including ‘Looked After Children’ that are placed with family members and friends who have been approved as ‘Family and Friends Foster Carers’.

Family and friends play a unique role in enabling children and young people to remain with people they know and trust if they cannot, for whatever reason, live with their parents.

These children may or may not be ‘Looked After’ by the local authority, or even known to it. The majority of the relatives who provide care are grandparents, aunts and uncles, but the group includes others such as older siblings.

Many children who are cared for by family and friends do well in life, but others are vulnerable to failing to achieve good outcomes. Many family and friends carers both want and need support to enable them to meet the needs of the children they care for.

Whilst every child must be considered on an individual basis according to their assessed needs, the Family and Friends Care Policy sets out how such need will be assessed and support provided where needed.

Read our full Family and Friends Care policy.

Find more information about Family and Friends Care from the Family Rights Group charity.

Connected persons foster care

In Dorset, we always try to place a child with someone they know if they can't live with their parents. This is called connected persons foster care.

These carers will be assessed, approved and supported as foster carers specifically for the child they know.

See our fostering pages for more information about fostering.