Child Arrangements Order (with Residence Requirement) Allowance

1. Introduction

Child Arrangements Orders with residence required decide where the child/young person is to live and with whom.

This policy outlines the criteria that must be met in order to receive a Child Arrangements Order Allowance from the Children and Young People's Service, and the procedure by which Child Arrangements Order Allowances are to be agreed and paid. The procedure for the annual review of Child Arrangements Order Allowances is also outlined.

2. Legislation

The Children Act 1989 (Section 8), states that "a Child Arrangements Order" means an order settling the Arrangements to be made as to the person with whom a child is to live.

Schedule 1 of the Children Act, 1989, (para.15) states that "where a child lives, or is to live, with a person as the result of a Child Arrangements Order, a local authority may make contributions to that person towards the cost of the accommodation and maintenance of the child." This does not apply where the person with whom the child lives, or is to live, is a parent of the child or the husband or wife or civil partner of a parent of the child.

3. Eligibility Criteria

There are two groups of children where the payment of a Child Arrangements Order Allowance to their carers may be appropriate:

  1. Looked After Child placed with RMBC Foster Carers whose application is determined by the Children and Young People's Service to be in the child's best interests and where the absence of an allowance would preclude the Order being made;
  2. A child who is not Looked After, whose primary carers the Children and Young People's Service:
    1. Has assessed that the child has suffered Significant Harm or was likely to have suffered significant harm; and
    2. Has been instrumental in intervening in the child's circumstances to ensure that the child is cared for by an appropriate carer; and
    3. Has determined that in the absence of those carers being available, Care Proceedings would have been necessary, and the local authority Legal representative has agreed this; and
    4. Has determined that the Child Arrangements Order being proposed is in the best interests of the child; and
    5. Has determined that the absence of an Allowance would preclude the Order being made.
If the above criteria have been met, then the procedure outlined below should be followed to determine if the carers are eligible to receive a Child Arrangements Order Allowance.

4. Timing of Applications

In all but the most exceptional of cases, decisions regarding the payment of Child Arrangements Order Allowances must be made prior to a Child Arrangements Order application being heard in Court. If applicants have already lodged their application with the Court, the Service Area Social Worker will need to request an adjournment of the proceedings should it become apparent that an application for an Allowance is required. Retrospective consideration for the payment of a Child Arrangements Order Allowance is only likely to be considered in circumstances where the eligibility criteria is fully met and that the court, through its own motion, has made a Child Arrangements Order and where the Children and Young People's Service was unable to seek adjournment in order that appropriate consideration with regard to Child Arrangements Order Allowances could be made.

5. Child Arrangements Order Allowance Procedure

Child Arrangements Order Allowances are means tested. A financial assessment is undertaken to determine the amount of Child Arrangements Order Allowance (see flowchart below). The carers are to be advised to claim all appropriate benefits they are entitled to. Child Arrangements Order Allowance will not be paid to cover these if the carer simply does not want to claim them. The Child Arrangements Order Allowance Scheme Guidance Notes details the calculation of the amount of Child Arrangements Order Allowance.

Child Arrangements Order Allowance Flowchart.

6. Pre-Placement Child Arrangements Order Allowance Applications

Social Work reports are not required in this situation, as the family is already known to the Children and Young People's Service. The social worker ensures the applicant has the relevant forms to complete. The process is then the same as for other applicants (see above).

Foster Carers Applying to Receive a Child Arrangements Order Allowance

When Foster Carers apply for a Child Arrangements Order, the allowances are based on the basic rates of fostering allowance only (minus child benefit), and are not means tested for a period of 2 years. The social worker must ensure that the Foster Carer is aware of this.

The Local Authority will pay the application fee and may contribute to the legal costs when RMBC foster carers apply for a Child Arrangements Order, as long as there is no contest. Any such payments must be agreed by the Service Manager (Service Area).

Enhanced Payments

It may be necessary on occasion that where there are additional needs, the Social Work report may recommend the payment of a non means tested enhanced payment. In these cases, the enhanced payment must be agreed by the Director Safeguarding, Children and Families.

Procedure if the Child/Young Person Leaves the United Kingdom on a permanent Basis

If the child/young person leaves the United Kingdom on a permanent basis, then the Child Arrangements Order Allowance will cease to be paid.

Procedure when Child/Young Person Leaves the Care of the Person with the Child Arrangements Order Before the age of 16

The Child Arrangements Order Allowance will continue to be paid for up to 6 weeks, after which the allowance will cease if the child/young person has not returned to their care.

If we become aware that a child is no longer living with the person who has the Child Arrangements Order for them, we will immediately inform the MASH Team.

The new carer will not receive the allowance unless they have been assessed in their own right and have obtained a Child Arrangements Order for that child.

7. Annual Review Procedure

An annual review of the Child Arrangements Order Allowance will be undertaken. The Child Arrangements Order Allowance Annual Review, the Child Arrangements Order Allowance Scheme Guidance Notes and standard letter and a SAE for return to the Business Support Officer with a 28 day deadline for completion.

On receipt of the completed form, the Business Support Officer will complete the calculation and the calculation will be checked by the Senior Business Support Officer. The Service Manager (Family Placement and Residential Services) will agree the level of Child Arrangements Order Allowance to be paid and the letter and agreement form will be sent out to the Child Arrangements Order holders. Details of the decision making and level of Child Arrangements Order Allowance to be paid will be recorded on the Child Arrangements Order holder's financial file.

8. Procedure Where no Reply Received

Failure to provide the information required for the annual review of the Child Arrangements Order allowance will result in Child Arrangements Order allowances being suspended and/or terminated. However, no Child Arrangements Order Allowance will be suspended or terminated until 28 days have expired since the date on which the notice was sent.

9. Appeal Process

If the Applicants are not satisfied at the decision making regarding Child Arrangements Order Allowances, their concerns should be made initially in writing to the Service Manager Family Placement and Residential Services. This should outline why they disagree with the decision, and where relevant, provide supporting information. The Service Manager Family Placement and Residential Services will respond within 20 days in writing. If the Applicant continues to be dissatisfied, the matter should be raised through the formal Complaints procedure.

10. Continued Payments of Allowances if Carers move to Another Area within the UK

In the event of carers moving outside the RMBC area, but within the United Kingdom, the Child Arrangements Order Allowance will continue to be paid.

11. Termination of Child Arrangements Order Allowances

Child Arrangements Order Allowances will be discontinued if:

  • The child ceases to have a home with the carers;
  • The child dies;
  • The child reaches the age of 16 years unless the Court has determined that the Child Arrangements Order should remain in place until their eighteenth birthday;
  • The carer(s) move to an address outside the United Kingdom;
  • Failure to adhere to the agreed review process.

12. Children Aged 16 years

Where the Court has determined that the Child Arrangements Order is to continue to the child's eighteenth birthday, an additional Review will be undertaken around the time of the 16th birthday to determine the plans of the child/young person, and how these may impact on the payment of the Child Arrangements Order allowance. Any income the child is in receipt of will be taken into consideration in determining the level of allowance.

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