Caring for children – responsibilities

Private fostering and Family and friends (respite) care

A private fostering arrangement is one that is made privately for the care of a child under the age of 16 (or under 18 if disabled) by someone other than a parent or close relative with the intention that it should last for 28 days or more.

Private foster carers may be from the extended family, such as a cousin or great aunt. A private foster carer may be a friend of the family, the parent of a friend of the child, or someone previously unknown to the child’s family who is willing to privately foster a child.

Further information about looking after someone else’s child

Special Guardianship Orders (SGO) and Parental Responsibility (PR)

A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is an order appointing 1 or more individuals to be a child’s ‘special guardian’. It is a private law order made under the Children Act 1989, intended for children who:

  • cannot live with their birth parents
  • would benefit from a legally secure placement

The SGO is intended to give children who cannot live with their birth parent/s, the security of a permanent order, but it is not a legal severance from their birth family. The order also gives the Special Guardian Parental Responsibility for the child in addition to birth parents who retain residual PR.

Parental responsibility

Parental Responsibility (PR) is defined in Section 3 (1) Children Act 1989 as: "all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property"

In general terms, this means the power to make important decisions in relation to a child - for example decisions about where a child is to live, whether a child can receive medical treatment, what religion they follow and which school they attend.

Further information about parental responsibility

Parental contact

Hampshire County Council does not get involved in parental contact arrangements with divorced or separated parents, unless there is a child protection issue or the child is in the local authority's care.

There are several centres around Hampshire which can provide supervised parental contact if this is required. See the National Association of Child Contact Centres' website.

For legal advice on parental contact issues, please contact your local Citizens' Advice Bureau.

Child arrangement orders
A Child Arrangements Order is a private law under section 8 of the Children Act 1989, as amended by the Children and Families Act 2014. Child Arrangements Orders were introduced in April 2014 by the Children and Families Act 2014 (which amended section 8 Children Act 1989)

These orders decide where the child is to live and with whom. The granting of a residence order to someone automatically gives him or her parental responsibility for the child if they do not already have it. Parental responsibility obtained as a result of a Residence Order will continue until the order ceases. Parental responsibility is not removed from the parents but they are limited as to how they exercise this.

A Child Arrangement Order lasts until the child is 16 or 18 if the circumstances of the case are exceptional and the court has ordered that it continue for longer.

A Child Arrangement Order can be granted to more than one person and can be made jointly to an unmarried couple.

A Child Arrangement Order prevents the following, without the agreement of everyone with Parental Responsibility

  • changing the surname of the child
  • removing the child from the UK (for more than 1 month)
  • consenting to the child's adoption
Children's homes

Hampshire has nine residential establishments within its boundaries.

Five homes cater for children and young people with long-term needs, for example, those who need a period of stability in a residential home. This will enable them to enable them to move on to a long term placement with foster carers, on to independence or back home to their families. These homes offer children a safe, nurturing and caring environment where they can build purposeful relationships with the team who will offer support, advice and encouragement. Homes work to the Emotional Warmth Model of Care (Pillars of Parenting). This enables young people to manage their emotions, anxieties and behaviours. These homes serve the whole County rather than their local area specifically. Altogether these facilities offer provision for up to 21 children and young people, aged between 12 and 17.

Three homes offer planned overnight short breaks to children with disabilities. These homes provide children with opportunities to learn and develop skills as well as and enjoy social and leisure experiences whilst staying away from home.

We also have a 16 bedded secure unit to which young people are referred to by the courts. This is a national resource. These young people are in the secure unit for their own protection, rather than being detained because of offences they have committed.

All homes are centrally line managed as part of the County's residential service.

Further information about the Virtual School Hampshire (VSH) for children in care

Further information

Children’s Social care teams

Safeguarding children