Caring for young relatives – Family or friend (kinship) carers

What is family, friend or kinship care?

Family or friend care, also known as kinship care is when grandparents or other family members step in to raise a relative’s or friend’s child. This usually happens when the child’s parents are no longer able to care for their child.

Many people do not realise that they are a carer, as they feel that it is something that they should do. The care arrangements may be very informal or in some cases the carer can formally foster or become the legal guardian of the child or young person.

Emotional and practical support for carers

Financial, practical and emotional support is available to carers to help them look after themselves and the person that they care for. There are a number of organisations that can help carers.

Newcastle City Council Family and Friends Carers Team give advice and guidance to family and friends carers in your caring role. Phone 0191 277 2430  Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm or email  

Newcastle Carers can offer information and support if you care for a child or young person who is ill, disabled, has mental health or has substance misuse problems.

Kinship (previously known as Grandparents plus) offer support to grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and family friends who step up to raise children when their parents can’t. They have an information and advice service and peer support. Email, call or connect with them on Facebook.

The Relative Experience Project gives help and support to grandparents and their family members who are bringing up a relative’s child, often in very difficult circumstances. They have Kinship Carer support groups.

Barnardo’s offer counselling and support services. They can help with:

  • parenting advice
  • mental health
  • bereavement
  • family stress or break-down
  • neglect
  • back to school
  • discrimination
  • barriers to accessing and using services
  • Wellness Recovery project for woman and children who have been victims of, and affected by, domestic abuse and sexual violence
  • Newcastle Young People’s Support Team
  • Young Dads Work, an early intervention and prevention service to young dads and parents and children at risk of entering the safeguarding or looked after arena
  • Boloh a free telephone helpline and web chat for adult asylum seekers or a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic parents or carers. Their advisors speak English, Urdu and Hindi. They provide advice, signposting and emotional support. They can help with advice about respiratory problems and Hong Kong nationals settling in the UK.

The Lifting Neighbourhoods Together project has a kinship carers support group in Walker

Financial support

If you care for a child or young person you may be able to claim Child Benefit.

If you are of working age and caring for a child you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Kinship has more information about Financial Issues you may be facing as the carer bringing up a relative’s or friend’s child

Child maintenance

Child maintenance is paid to cover the living costs of a child that you care for. It’s usually paid to the person the child lives with and carries out most of the day to day care. The parent (or parents) who doesn’t live with the child usually pays child maintenance.

Read more about Child Maintenance from Citizens Advice

Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is a government service for separated parents to make financial arrangements for their children. Both parents are responsible for paying for your child’s living costs, even if they don’t live with or see their child. The website explains your options and includes information about family-based arrangements. The CMS can:

Benefits advice

It can be useful to speak with someone about the benefits you may be entitled to and how they may impact upon your other benefits. Local independent advice services include:

Visit for more benefit advice services available across Newcastle.

Benefits for families on a low income factsheets from Kinship


You might like to consider adoption. This is where you undergo a process to give a child a stable and permanent home.

Adopt North East support people through the process of adoption.

Children and young people’s information

When caring for babies, children or young people you may find these pages on InformationNOW useful:

You can also find more childrens information on Newcastle Support Directory

Addiction support

Support is available if the parent who can no longer care for their child has addiction problems. These pages on InformationNOW may be useful

Family and relationship support

There are services that can offer mediation, counselling and support if there has been a family breakdown. Read more on InformationNOW:

Am I a carer?

If you look after an adult without being paid, for example a friend or relative who couldn’t manage without your support then you are a carer. There is support available in Newcastle for carers.

Last updated: December 5, 2023