Guidance on Issues Relating to Section 20 of the Children Act and Placements with Relatives


This guidance is provided to explain the legal principles as to whether a placement of a child with a relative is a section 20 placement or a private family arrangement.


Decision to Look After


Guidance on Obtaining Consent for Section 20

This chapter was added to the manual in February 2016.

This chapter is currently under review.

Case law has established that when a Local Authority have become involved with a child and their family, to the point that they have indicated the child cannot remain in the care of his parents, it is likely that the duty to provide for that child will be under Section 20. If the Local Authority then approach family members or alternative placements and the parents agree to such placements, it will be likely to constitute a Section 20 placement.

Similarly if a child is already living with relatives under arrangements made by the parent and the Local Authority later becomes involved and takes an active role in 'managing' the placement then the arrangement will be likely to constitute a Section 20 placement. This includes situations where the parent is living with the relative with the child. A Local Authority will be deemed to be 'managing' the placement if it takes action, such as controlling contact by the parent and /or forbidding the parent from removal of the child from the placement.

If however a parent arranges with a relative to care for a child which the Local Authority are aware of, the placement of this is unlikely to be deemed to be accommodation under Section 20, unless the Local Authority take an active role in managing the arrangements. The Local Authority can ensure this by making it clear, preferably in writing, that they consider the arrangement to be a private family arrangement and that the Local Authority will not be providing any financial assistance other than that which may be provided under Section 17.

  • A parent in cases where the Local Authority consider the arrangement to be a private family arrangement;
  • A family member or friend that cares for the child.