Living arrangements and guardianship
For most children and young people bereaved by domestic homicide, the first and main changes are in their living arrangements. Depending on the case, children and young people may be placed under local authority/foster care, different family members or family friends. Often, children and young people have to move several times. Conversely, living arrangements can help promote a sense of stability/continuity for the children and young people when they help maintain access to their school, friends, family and neighbourhood.
Children’s relationship with their family can vary greatly, and siblings don’t necessarily experience things in the same way. Some children and young people have a positive relationship with both sides of their family, while others may prefer not to contact them. Many may also experience tensions between family members, which can cause loyalty conflicts. Additionally, the child or young person’s culture and traditions will determine the meaning and role of family in their life.
In this complex scenario, some questions that practitioners face are:
- What information is available to help us make decisions about living arrangements and guardianship?
- What role does the child or young person’s sibling/s play in their life? In what ways are siblings’ views similar and different, and do they want to live together?
- How can we help prevent or mediate tensions between sides of the family?