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Campaigners set tests for government’s kinship care strategy ahead of publication

The first national kinship care strategy is set to be published by the end of this year. A charity has set six tests for government to deliver on to meet the needs of children and families.

18/09/23

Campaigners set tests for government’s kinship care strategy ahead of publication

Campaigners are calling for a fairer system for kinship carers ahead of the government’s planning for a national kinship care strategy, which is set to be published by the end of this year.

In February, Gillian Keegan MP, the Education Secretary pledged to “unlock the potential of kinship care” so that “children who cannot stay with their parents are cared for by people who know and love them already”.

Kinship carers are wider family and friends – including grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters – who step up for children when they cannot stay at home. It is estimated that 180,000 children in the UK are being raised by kinship carers.

Family Rights Group, a charity which works with child welfare and the family justice systems, says that, as part of the strategy, the government should create an ‘inclusive definition’ of kinship care written into primary legislation as well as independent specialist advice for (prospective) kinship carers to make informed decisions.

They are also calling for a fairer system of financial support for kinship households nationwide, including paid employment leave and protections for kinship carers and educational support for children and young people raised in kinship care until the age of 25. The charity is also calling for access to therapeutic and mental health support for all kinship children.

The charity added that if the government’s strategy were to address these six areas of concern for kinship families, it would help ensure that kinship arrangements remain viable for families across the country who take on responsibility for children in need, often at great personal cost.

Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive of Family Rights Group, said the children and families they work with are calling for these changes.

“Kinship care is very often the best option for children who cannot stay at home, and yet has been consistently overlooked and undervalued by successive governments despite the worsening crisis in children’s social care.

With David Johnston recently taking on the job of Children’s Minister, Family Rights Group said this strategy is the government’s opportunity to rise to the scale of the challenge facing the children’s social care sector and must involve departments across government taking kinship care seriously.

“The first national kinship care strategy is an opportunity to address this injustice and deliver for tens of thousands of children and their carers,” Cathy Ashley continued.

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