Most children are brought up by one or more of their parents, but it has been estimated that up to 300,000 children are cared for full time by a relative, friend, or other person previously connected with the child. These arrangements will be covered by a range of different legal statuses including over 7,000 looked after children who are placed with family members and friends who have been approved as their foster carers.

This guidance sets out a framework for the provision of support to family and friends carers. In particular it provides guidance on the implementation of the duties in the Children Act 1989 in respect of children and young people who, because they are unable to live with their parents, are being brought up by members of their extended families, friends or other people who are connected with them.

The guidance makes it clear that children and young people who are unable to live with their parents should receive the support that they and their carers need to safeguard and promote their welfare, whether or not they are looked after. It aims to ensure that local authorities understand when such children should become looked after, and sets out what local authorities and their partners should do to deliver effective services to children and young people who are living with family members or friends.

It is aimed at: lead members for children’s services in local authorities, Directors of Children’s Services, managers of services for children in need and looked after children and social workers and other social care staff working with children in need.


  • Introduction
  • The context of care by family and friends
  • The legal context
  • The local policy requirement
  • Approval of family and friends as foster carers
  • Annexes