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Charity calls on Care Review and Government to better support kinship carers

Submitting evidence to the Review of Children’s Social Care, charity Kinship is calling for a radically reformed kinship care system in England.

28/03/22

Charity calls on Care Review and Government to better support kinship carers

A charity is calling for better support for kinship carers and their children and imploring the Chair of the Review of Children’s Social Care to consider these recommendations as he prepares to report to Government.

The report – which the charity says is informed by its work directly with kinship carers, its own research, and consultation with kinship carers – says urgent changes are required to enable kinship care to function properly.

Research estimates that, in England and Wales, there are currently over 162,400 children in kinship care, nearly double the 88,000 children in local authority care. Campaigners say that well-supported kinship care leads to better outcomes for children and reduces pressure on children’s social care.

The report calls for guaranteed financial support for all kinship carers, including immediate support to help a child settle in, as well as access to a universal, standard, non-means-tested allowance that matches the current national minimum fostering allowance. It also urges introducing a right to paid kinship care leave on a par with adoption leave.

“Most kinship carers take on the role at a time of crisis. They take on the full financial cost of the child, usually without any financial support,” the report says.

The report finds that the information and advice available to kinship carers is not adequate. It says carers should have access to independent information and advice that is clear, accessible, and relevant to the needs of each kinship family and their challenges. The charity says that all kinship carers should have clearer legal rights to ensure all carers have access to legal aid and a role in legal proceedings.

They also say that there should be improved practical and emotional support for all kinship families, including health, education, and therapeutic support for children as well as preparation and training, practical, emotional and therapeutic support, peer support, and support with contact for carers.

To assist with this, Kinship has recommended establishing specialist kinship care teams in local authorities and make sure all social workers and other professionals working with kinship families have the training they need to support them.

“One key message from both research and kinship carers themselves is that the support available to them is inadequate. There is no clear national strategy on how kinship carers should be supported,” the report said.

“Currently, support is based on the legal status of the child rather than their level of need.”

Dr Lucy Peake, Chief Executive of Kinship, says further research and data collection is imperative to know exactly how many kinship families there are, where they are, what support they need, and how best to help them.

“With a long-term strategy and the right investment kinship care should thrive as a place of safety, security and aspiration for even more children who would otherwise be in the care system. It’s time for the Government to step up and act, just as thousands of kinship carers do every year for children who cannot live with their parents.”

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