4.2.4 Financial Support: Assessment and Decision Making for Residence and Special Guardianship Orders
Note: from April 2014, Residence Orders and Contact Orders were replaced by Child Arrangements Orders. Prior to April 2014, a Residence Order was a Court Order made under section 8 of the Children Act 1989, settling the arrangements as to the person with whom a child was to live.
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter refers to the assessment and decision-making regarding Residence and Special Guardianship Financial Support. Residence or Special Guardianship Allowances will only be paid subject to strict criteria (see Financial Support Guidance: Residence and Special Guardianship Orders). The approval of the Head of Service (Vulnerable Children and Young People) is required and if agreed will only be payable on the making of a final (not interim) Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship Order.This chapter should be read in conjunction with the following:
This chapter was updated in May 2012 to include an update with regard to approval of allowances.
Where a request for financial support is received from a Special Guardian or holder of a Residence Order (or applicant for such orders) the following process will apply:
Contact/referral form completed and passed to team manager for consideration (unless financial support is being considered as part of an existing Plan or Care Proceedings when a Contact/referral is not required).
Where the child is known, and assessments have already been undertaken identifying the child as a 'Child In Need', a further assessment is not required unless the assessment was undertaken more than three months prior to the date of the request. In such cases a further assessment will be required.
The team manager considers the criteria for financial support in respect of Residence or Special Guardianship Orders. Where the criteria are met the request will be allocated for assessment which will include a financial assessment and the completion of a FIN 1 form together with documentary evidence of income and outgoings. The social worker must take a copy of the documentation from the court regarding either the application or making of a Residence or Special Guardianship Order and attach to the assessment (in care proceedings, the court direction identifying the prospective carer must be attached).
The allocated social worker will send the Guidance on Financial Support: Residence and Special Guardianship Orders and the Complaints Leaflet and the carer/prospective carer should sign and return the tear off slip to confirm they have received these before an assessment is started. When the tear off slip is returned this will be photocopied, with the original placed on the finance file and a copy attached to the completed assessment form and placed on the child's file.
The social worker must complete the assessment within 35 working days of notification of the application for a Residence or Special Guardianship Order being made. This must include an analysis as to whether the criteria have been met and a recommendation as to whether financial support should be provided, and if so, the most appropriate means of this. The social worker must inform the carer that they cannot commit to any payments or financial assistance until the process has been completed and the Service Manager has made their decision.
Any ongoing financial support (Residence or Special Guardianship Order allowances) requires the authorisation of the Head of Service (Vulnerable Children and Young People. If agreed any allowances are not payable until the full Residence or Special Guardianship Order is granted.
Where any immediate financial support is requested this, if approved, must be made under Section 17 and must be discussed with the Team Manager, and where necessary, the Service Manager.
The social worker will pass the financial information (Fin 1) together with the documentary evidence of income and outgoings to the designated admin officer to undertake the financial assessment against the revised Standardised Means Testing Model (August 2010).
Where the Team Manager, on the basis of the assessment, agrees that the criteria for financial support is met, and that this is necessary for the carers to look after the child, then the assessment report, FIN 1 form, spreadsheet detailing the financial assessment and copy of the Residence or Special Guardianship application or order is passed to the Service Manager for consideration. If ongoing financial support by way of Residence or Special Guardianship allowances is being recommended then the authorisation of the Head of Service (Vulnerable Children and Young People) is required.
If the Service Manager or Head of Service (if ongoing allowances) agrees, they will sign the appropriate documentation to authorise the payments and pass the documentation back to the Admin Manager, with a copy to the team manager. No RO or SGO allowances can be made until a final Residence Order or Special Guardianship Order has been made.
A Child in Need Plan, signed by all parties must be in place that details the support services being provided including the level of financial support. The Child in Need Plan and the level of financial support must be reviewed and reassessed at least annually. Child in Need procedures do not require an allocated social worker if the only service provided is Residence/Special Guardianship Order Allowance.
The Admin Manager will ensure that a letter, including the Child in Need Plan (with a stamped addressed envelope for the attention of the admin manager) is sent to the carer who is required to return the tear off slip before payments can start.
The letter must include details of:
- How the amount of financial support was determined;
- The amount of financial support;
- The frequency (if an ongoing payment) with which the payment will be made;
- The period for which payment will be made;
- When payment will commence;
- Any conditions attached to the payment;
- The arrangements and procedure for review, variation or termination;
- The responsibilities of the local authority and the carer.
Once the slip is returned Admin will process for payment by sending a memo to Finance (with a copy maintained for the finance file)
Where the carer does not meet the criteria for financial support they will be notified in writing, specifying the reasons.