Kinship care

What is kinship care?

In some circumstances, grandparents, other relatives or a family friend may take on the full-time care of children and young people, when parents are not able to care for them. Reasons for this include parental drug or alcohol misuse, imprisonment, abuse or neglect, domestic violence and parental health issues or parental capacity. Kinship care can also arise from the death of a parent. Many kinship care arrangements are informal unlike relative foster care which is a formal arrangement.

Depending on how your kinship family is formed there are different routes to secure your legal relationship with and responsibility for the children and young people in your care, to ensure that their rights can be exercised and protected.


Guardianship is the legal responsibility of a person to perform duties regarding a child's upbringing and welfare. It also includes the right to make decisions about major areas of the child’s life.

For example, guardians have a duty to properly care for a child. They also have rights that may include decisions on:

  • Consent to medical treatment
  • What school the child attends
  • Passport applications and taking the child out of the country
  • The child's religious upbringing

To apply for custody and/or guardianship, contact your local District Court Office. When a birth parent is alive, a kinship carer must be caring for a child for 12 consecutive months before they can become a legal guardian. Kinship Care Ireland can provide further information and support on applying for guardianship.

Temporary guardianship

A guardian may nominate another person to act as a guardian if they are unable to exercise their guardianship rights due to serious illness or injury.  The nomination must be made in writing and can specify the rights and responsibilities that the nominated person can exercise. The nominated person must then apply to the court for guardianship rights if and when necessary.

Testamentary guardianship

A guardian can appoint another guardian in their will to take on the responsibility of their children after their death.  The ‘testamentary guardian’ can then apply to the court for custody of the child.  If a testamentary guardian is appointed and there is another surviving guardian, both guardians will act jointly with each other and have the right to apply for custody of the child.

Social welfare

You may get social welfare support if a child lives with you and you are responsible for their care. For example, you may qualify to receive Child Benefit and/or Guardian's Payment.

Child Benefit is a monthly payment to the parents or guardians of children under 16 years of age. You can get Child Benefit for children aged 16 and 17, if they are in full-time education or full-time training, or have a disability and cannot support themselves. From 1 May 2024, Child Benefit will be extended to children aged 18 who are in full-time education or who have a disability.

Guardian’s Payment is a weekly payment of €215 per week per child to support meeting the caring needs of a child. You do not need to be a legal guardian to apply for Guardian’s Payment. If you are a kinship carer who has been refused Guardian’s Payment, contact Kinship Care Ireland for further information and support.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance and the Additional Needs Payment are means-tested payments that you can apply for while you are waiting for the processing of your Guardian’s Payment application.

Further information

Contact Kinship Care Ireland for more information about additional support payments that you may qualify for and advice on legal issues that can arise if you have a child in your care. If you wish, Kinship Care Ireland can also arrange for you to meet other kinship carers.

FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent, voluntary organisation. A limited number of FLAC phone clinic appointments are offered in conjunction with Citizen Information Services around the country. These appointments are with a volunteer lawyer and are confidential and free of charge. Contact your nearest Citizens Information Centre for information on FLAC phone clinic appointments in your area. FLAC’s Information and Referral Line for basic legal information is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am-1pm.

You can also contact your nearest law centre for information on Legal Aid. If you are eligible for legal aid and advice from the Legal Aid Board, you generally will have to pay a contribution towards the costs.

Kinship Care Ireland

Teil: 087 1487124
Láithreán Gréasáin:
Téigh i dteagmháil linn:

An Bord um Chúnamh Dlíthiúil

Sráid an Chalaidh
Cathair Saidhbhín
V23 RD36

Teil: 066 947 1000
Lóghlao: 0818 615 200
Láithreán Gréasáin:

Ionad Comhairle Dlí Saor in Aisce

85/86 Sráid Dorset Uachtarach
Dublin 1
D01 P9Y3

Teil: +353 (0)1 906 1010
Láithreán Gréasáin:
Téigh i dteagmháil linn:
Dáta an Leasaithe Deireanaigh: 18 Aibreán 2024