Sure Start grant victory for carer

Thousands of families who care for other people’s children under residence orders will be eligible for a government grant after an Appeal Court ruling last week.

Judges said the Department for Work and Pensions had discriminated against Sara Francis, who stepped in to look after her sick sister’s baby, by refusing to give her a 500 Sure Start maternity grant.

The grant has not been available to people looking after babies under residence orders, but has been paid to adoptive and foster parents.

The boy was taken into foster care when he was only three days old. After visiting him regularly, Francis obtained a court order that he should live with her, but she ruled out adopting him because she wanted him to “know his roots”.

Francis’s lawyers had argued that she had parental responsibility for the boy and that her position was “analogous” to that of an adoptive parent.

But the DWP had claimed that paying the grant to Francis and others like her would blur the “bright line” of the policy.

A department spokesperson said officials were considering the ruling.

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