This chapter was added to the manual in April 2017.
This chapter is currently under review.
- Assessing the Level of Allowance
- Management of Allowances
- Allowances to Applicants Living Out of the Local Authority Area
In promoting permanent stable family placements for children, consideration will be given to the payment of a Child Arrangements Order Allowance and support with legal and court costs.
The criteria for paying a Child Arrangements Order Allowance are as follows:
- Where a child's foster carer applies successfully for a Child Arrangement Order with the support of the County Council, the County Council will provide a Child Arrangements Order Allowance. Approved foster carers will be all those approved under the Fostering Services Regulations including friends and relatives;
- Where a Court finds that the Threshold Criteria for a Care Order are satisfied, but makes a Child Arrangements Order in favour of a relative in the child's best interests, normally the County Council would consider specific requests for one-off items. In exceptionally rare cases, the Directorate will consider paying an allowance in cases of extreme hardship, but only if it can be shown that the proposed placement is impracticable without such an allowance;
- Where a Child Arrangements Order is made in favour of a relative in private law proceedings, it will be unusual for an allowance to be paid unless the order has been applied for with the County Council's support as a clear alternative to Care Proceedings, when the criteria at b. above will apply;
- In circumstances other than at c., where a Child Arrangements Order is made in favour of a relative in private law proceedings, any financial help would be subject to the usual assessment for support under Section 17;
- Where a Child Arrangements Order is made in favour of a parent or step-parent, there is no obligation to contribute to a child's maintenance. In cases of extreme hardship, any request for help would need to be considered and assessed against Section 17 criteria.
Examples of cases that it is envisaged will be regarded as exceptionally rare so that an allowance would be payable are:
- Where the local authority considers that it is necessary to ensure that the person in whose favour the Child Arrangements Order is made can look after the child;
- Where the local authority consider that the child needs special care which requires a greater expenditure of resources than would otherwise be the case because of his illness, disability, emotional or behavioural difficulties or the consequences of his past abuse or Neglect.
All families applying for a Child Arrangements Order on a child looked after, with the support of the Directorate for Children and Young People should be given information about Lancashire's Child Arrangements Order Allowance Scheme (ROA5).
The child's social worker must consider whether the criteria for payment of an allowance are met, based on the criteria established in Section 1, Policy. This decision will then be reviewed and approved at District Manager level.
As part of the permanence planning for the child (for example this may be the four month Looked After Review), consideration:
- Of a Child Arrangements Order Allowance should be made, taking into account the needs of the child and whether the carers seek an allowance;
- Of additional payments to assist with court and legal costs.
In the event of a request for appeal. Initial any representation should be made to relevant social worker. Appeals regarding Child Arrangements Order Allowances are heard by Panel or a subcommittee of it. A complaint may be made in the usual way, if an issue cannot be resolved.
3. Assessing the Level of Allowance
Levels of the allowance payable are as follows:
- The equivalent of basic fostering allowances allowance may be paid;
- The equivalent of 'enhancement' may be payable. The additional expenditure must be justifiable. This would require annual assessment by a social worker rather than a purely administrative review;
- One off payment for equipment, furnishings etc. i.e. set up costs will be paid through Section 17 monies, if required;
- Should a foster carer who wishes to progress the placement to secure a child legally, whose care presents additional costs – then an additional allowance will not be guaranteed but would be reviewed as it would be if the carer were still receiving fostering allowance.
Carers who have a Child Arrangements Order are able to claim Child Benefit. The amount of allowance should be reduced pound for pound by the amount of child benefit.
Carers in receipt of benefits should be advised that their benefit may be reduced if they are in receipt of a Child Arrangements Order Allowance.
Similarly, tax-paying carers need to be advised that the Child Arrangements Order Allowance may be taxable.
It is not possible to provide standard advice because of families' individual circumstances. Social workers should therefore not give specific advice to families but may direct them to seek advice from Welfare Rights for assistance in this matter or contact the benefits agency or Tax office directly.
For those families taking a Child Arrangements Order on a child who meets the criteria there will be no financial assessment.
4. Management of Allowances
4.1 Child Arrangements Order Allowance Agreement
After the decision has been made to pay a Child Arrangements Order Allowance the following information must be given to the family taking the Child Arrangements Order in writing:
- The amount of the allowance;
- The date of the first payment;
- The method of payment and frequency (BACS is the preferred option);
- The arrangements for review, variation and termination of the allowance;
- The responsibilities of the family to notify Lancashire County Council of changes in their circumstances or those of the child:
- If the child dies;
- If the child no longer has a home with them (either of them);
- If the Child Arrangements Order is revoked;
- If they change address.
(The allowance will stop in the case of the first three points)
This information is included in form ROA4 and should be sent to the family taking the Child Arrangements Order following the agreement of the level of the allowance.
The family taking the Child Arrangements Order must sign and return one copy of the agreement to agree to the details of the payment.
4.2 Commencement of Payment
Assessments for a Child Arrangements Order allowance will be undertaken from the date of the request for assessment and, where payable, the allowance will be backdated to the date of the request. In exceptionally rare cases the local authority will consider requests for assessments pre-dating the request but this will only be in cases in which it can be shown that severe hardship was suffered in the placement in the absence of an allowance during that period.
The payment of a Child Arrangements Order Allowance begins from the date of the Court Order.
When a foster carer is granted a Child Arrangements Order, fostering allowances payments will cease. Payment of Child Arrangements Order Allowances will commence from the date of the Order.
(Foster Carer's insurance as arranged by LCC will cease with the change of status).
4.3 Review, Variation and Termination of Allowance
The Child Arrangements Order Allowance will be reviewed annually by Business Support.
The Directorate will contact the family with the Child Arrangements Order Allowance to confirm that:
- The young person is still a full time member of their household;
- The carer remains financially responsible for the young person's maintenance;
- Still qualified under Section 17 criteria.
Allowances subject to variation, that is enhanced allowances, will be assessed by members of the children's social work teams. Business support will notify teams when a review is due.
All families in receipt of allowances, if the child has a disability, will be reviewed by a children's social worker when the young person reaches 14 in line with their transition review. Business Support will inform the relevant team when they are undertaking reviews on young people in these circumstances. Business Support will carry out the annual review of these cases at other times.
If an overpayment has been made for example because it is found that the child is no longer resident, or for any other reason, the local authority may wish to recover the overpayment.
The review form sent to families should state their liability to repay monies if they give false information or fail to notify the local authority of a significant change in circumstance.
The Child Arrangements Order Allowance will be varied as the child moves into the next age band, from the date of the child's birthday.
Payment of the Child Arrangements Order Allowance will automatically end when:
- The child ceases to live with the family with the Child Arrangements Order;
- The Child Arrangements Order ceases.
Child Arrangements Order Allowances will not be reduced for working children (up to 18 yrs old).
5. Allowances to Applicants Living Out of the Local Authority Area
Lancashire would support a Child Arrangements Order for a Lancashire child and pay an allowance according to the same hardship criteria as above, wherever the child was placed. For relatives or parents or others who have a Child Arrangements Order and whose need for help arises subsequent to the order being made, and who live in another area, then the assessment and responsibility for meeting any needs will rest with the Local Authority in whose area the child and carer live.
Similarly, if a child has come to Lancashire on a Child Arrangements Order with an allowance, we would expect the placing Authority to have ongoing financial responsibility. However, if no allowances are in place when the order is made but a subsequent claim is made under the hardship criteria, Lancashire would assess the need for any support under the hardship criteria for Section 17 support.
Child Arrangements Order Allowance Agreement form ROA4
A Child Arrangements Order Allowance has been agreed in respect of:
The level of payment for each child:
Setting up costs agreed are: ..............................................
The Child Arrangements Order Allowance will be reviewed annually.
The family are reminded that it is their responsibility to notify Lancashire County Council of changes in their circumstances or those of the child:
If an overpayment is made due to a failure to give this information, the Local Authority may seek to recover the payment.
This form was sent out on: ...............................................
Agree with the Child Arrangements Order Allowance Agreement
Signed: ............................ Date: ..................
Please return tear off slip in SAE provided.
Lancashire Child Arrangements Order Allowance Scheme ROA5
Information for Families
Child Arrangements Allowances were introduced as part of the Children Act 1989 and the purpose of them was to enable a child to be legally cared for by another family where otherwise financial constraints would prevent this.
Criteria for payment of an allowance
If an Allowance is Payable
Once a decision has been made that an allowance is payable, you would be informed in writing of the details:
You are asked to acknowledge the arrangements and either agree to them or ask for an appeal.
Payment and Review
Payment commences as from the date of the Child Arrangements Order.
(Remember if you were previously a foster carer for Lancashire County Council that once foster allowances have ceased and Child Arrangements Order is paid that you are no longer covered by Lancashire County Councils fostering insurance scheme).
The allowance is reviewed annually and this is to determine that the allowance is still appropriate.
The Child Arrangements Order allowance is payable in respect of the child who is subject to a Child Arrangements Order who is resident with you. If your circumstances alter so that this is no longer the case you must notify Lancashire County Council.
If there is an overpayment as a result of a failure to notify the council of a change in circumstances, then the council may seek to recover this money.
You should notify the council:
Initially any representation should be made to your social worker. Appeals regarding Child Arrangements Order Allowances are heard by Panel or a subcommittee of it. A complaint may be made in the usual way, if an issue cannot be resolved.
This leaflet is not a full statement of the Child Arrangements Order Allowances policy and procedure. You can request a full copy from your social worker in the Family Placement Team or from the child's social worker:
Morecambe Bay Area Fostering Team
Tel: 01524 66246
North West Lancashire Fostering Team
Tel: 01772 537020/537021/537022
South Lancashire Fostering Team
Tel: 01772 904650
Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale Fostering Team
Tel: 01282 423927
Hyndburn and Ribble Valley Fostering Team
Tel: 01200 425146
Following your recent annual review I can now confirm that your Child Arrangements Order allowance will be:
The next review of the allowance will take place on (date).
May I remind you that you are responsible to inform the Directorate of any change in circumstances that may affect your allowance.
If you have any queries about this review please contact me.