What is kinship care?

Some children and young people do not stay at home because their parents are not able to look after them, or they may be at risk of harm. Whenever possible, we try to make sure children keep close links with their families and their communities. Often, we look to the extended family or family friends to give care. This is known as kinship care.

Kinship care policy

Our kinship care policy gives more information about our approach to fulfilling our responsibilities to children who are living with friends; extended family and kinship carers:

Kinship care terminology

There are words and phrases used in our kinship care section that you may be unfamiliar with. Here's a list of these and their explanations to help you understand them: 


Are you a kinship carer?

Are you a relative or family friend who is caring for someone else’s child? If the answer is yes then you are a kinship carer.


What will I need to do as a kinship carer?

As a kinship carer, you need to provide a safe, stable and supportive environment for the child or young person in your care: meeting their emotional, educational and social needs.

It is also important that children keep in contact with their families and that their cultural, religious and family background is respected.


What kind of kinship carer are you?

There are different types of kinship carer, depending on how you have come to care for the child. These are:



Carer of a ‘looked after’ child

If you have been asked to look after a child by social workers or a Children’s Hearing panel you are caring for a ‘looked after’ child. The child may also be under a supervision requirement with a condition that they live with you.

As the local authority, we are responsible for the child. We will safeguard the child’s health and wellbeing, direct and guide you. The child will be under looked after child reviews and children’s hearings. A child’s plan is developed to meet the child's needs. This is a structured plan and as their carer you need to support it.

As a carer of a 'looked after' child you may be entitled to allowances or payments.

Under the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009, we must assess prospective, or current, kinship carers of 'looked after' children for approval as kinship carers.


Emergency placement

If you have agreed to care for a child in an emergency you will be providing emergency placement care.

A social worker will do some basic checks on you. A written agreement is made between yourself and social work, setting out the expectations for the carer and local authority. A meeting is held within three days of the placement to review the situation. Further meetings are held at regular intervals to give you support throughout the placement.

If you would like more information, please contact the child’s social worker.


Carer of a ‘non looked after’ child

If you have been to court and received some or all parental rights and responsibilities of the child through a Section 11 Order, you are a carer of a ‘non looked after’ child. You may be entitled to certain allowances or payments.

We may not be involved with the care of the child unless there are concerns for the child’s safety. But if you need any advice, guidance or help please contact our Kinship Care team.


For more information about Section 11 Orders and what it means to you please read our leaflet Information for Kinship Carers - Orders Under Section 11 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995:


Informal kinship carer

If the decision for the child to be cared for by you was voluntary and made between you and the parents, you are known as an informal kinship carer.

The child is not classified as ‘looked after’ by us and we will not have been involved in this decision. You will have no parental rights and responsibilities for the child. The parents could demand the child back and continue to intervene. We can give you advice, guidance and help but not money.

You must let us know within 28 days of the child coming to live with you that this arrangement has been made.


If you are not sure what kind of kinship carer you are, please contact our Kinship Care team.

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