Tell the Child Benefit Office online or by phone or post if your child goes into care for more than 8 weeks, or hospital or ‘residential care’ for more than 12 weeks, because this can affect your Child Benefit payments.

Residential care is accommodation paid for by your local council, usually because your child has a mental or physical disability. It’s different from ‘care’.

The hospital can be abroad if the child’s spending less than a year abroad.

Breaks in hospital or residential care

If the child goes back into hospital or residential care within 28 days of leaving it - the total time spent away from home will count towards the 12 week (84 day) limit.

After 8 or 12 weeks

Usually, you’re no longer entitled to Child Benefit after the time limit. There are exceptions to this rule, for example:

  • for children in care - if they spend at least 24 hours a week at home
  • for children in a UK hospital or residential care - if you regularly spend money on them
  • for children in hospital abroad - if you’re back in the UK and regularly spending money on them

Your partner’s money will only count if you’re married or civil partnered and living together.

Check with the Child Benefit Office to find out if exceptions apply to you.

You may be able to claim Child Benefit again if the child is in care but spends 2 nights in a row each week or 7 days or more in a row at home. Contact the Child Benefit Office to find out what to do next.

What you need to do

Tell the Child Benefit Office if your child:

  • goes into care
  • is expected to go into hospital or residential care for more than 12 weeks