Happy Children Running On Beach By Sand CastleChild Benefit 

You can claim Child Benefit for each child up to the age of 16 you are looking after. You can continue to receive it if your child stays in full time education up to the age of 20. If your income is over £50,000 and you or your partner claims child benefit, you will have to pay extra tax.

Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit

You can also claim Child Tax Credit  for each child up to the age of 16, or 20 if they stay in full time education. The amount you receive will depend on your circumstances. The basic amount is £545 a year and there is an additional element for each child. The additional element is higher if your child is disabled or severely disabled. 

Even if your child sometimes lives with another person, such as an ex-partner following separation or divorce, only one of you can claim Child Tax Credit.

From October 2013, Child Tax Credit is gradually being replaced by a Child Element of a new benefit called Universal Credit. 

Can I adopt a child?

You have to be at least 21 years old. You can apply to your local authority or contact a specialist adoption agency. It is up to the local authority or agency to consider whether you are suitable to be an adoptive parent. 

If your application is rejected, you can write to the local authority or agency to reconsider the decision. You can also apply to another agency.

Why would the local authority take away my child? 

Sometimes a local authority may think that you are not looking after your child. If it becomes aware that he or she is suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm, a local authority can seek a care order giving them legal responsibility for the child. If you co-operate and agree to the child being taken into care, you will still have parental responsibility.

Before the local authority can apply for a care order to take away your child, they must investigate the child’s circumstances. It will then apply to the court. If the court is convinced, it will appoint a guardian to the child, usually a relative.

If a relative cannot be found, the local authority will look for a foster parent who is not a relative or friend. Failing that, they may also send the child to a local authority care home. 

Once the care order is granted, the local authority has the right to decide where the child should live, without your or your child’s consent.

When should a child receive an education? 

You have a legal responsibility for providing your children with an education from the age of 5. This responsibility lasts until the last Friday in June in the academic year (September to July), when he or she is 17 (going up to 18 from 2015). The education can be provided by sending them to school or home-schooling them.

You can claim free early education for your child when he or she is three years old. 

From September 2013, you can claim free early education when your child is two years old if you are receiving the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance 
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance 
  • Asylum Support 
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit 
  • Child Tax Credit and an annual income of not more than £16,190 
  • The Working Tax Credit four-week run on 
  • Universal Credit

From September 2014, you can claim free early education for two year olds if:  

  • you are receiving any of the above benefits
  • you are receiving Working Tax Credits and annual gross earnings of not more than £16,190
  • the child has a current statement of special education or education, health and care plan
  • the child receives Disability Living Allowance
  • the child is looked after by the local authority or has left care through a special guardianship, adoption or residence order

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