Kinship’s #ValueOurLove campaign is continuing to push Governments, local authorities and other decision makers to equalise support between kinship families and foster and adoptive families across England and Wales. In particular, the forthcoming national kinship care strategy in England offers a significant opportunity to consider the recommendations below to transform support for kinship carers and their children. The UK Government must use this opportunity to deliver lasting change for kinship families who have waited too long already for support.
The recommendations below follow specifically from the key findings included in this report. For more information on Kinship’s other policy positions and recommendations, please visit the links below.
All kinship carers should receive the financial support they need, when they need it.
The UK and Welsh Governments should equalise financial allowances between foster carers and kinship carers, ensuring kinship families receive a non-means tested allowance equivalent to the national minimum fostering allowance. Local authorities should receive an appropriate increase in funding to deliver this entitlement, ending the current unacceptable variation and poor practice in financial support for kinship families.
All local authorities should have an up to date, accessible and visible policy on the provision of financial support for kinship carers. They should emulate the leading practice of local authorities who already deliver a non-means tested allowance to kinship carers as soon as possible, and ensure financial issues are never the reason for an arrangement ceasing or prevent one from starting.
In England, testing of family network support packages through ongoing Pathfinder and pilot activity must enable local authorities to fully deliver flexible and intensive funding tailored to the individual needs of families in order to properly evidence how this early support can make a difference.
Kinship care leave
The UK Government should also introduce a statutory right to kinship care leave and pay, on a par with that given to adoptive parents, preventing kinship carers from having to give up work unnecessarily when they step up to take on the care of a child and providing financial security at a crucial time. Employers should ensure their family friendly policies actively include kinship carers, and engage with Kinship’s Kinship Friendly Employers scheme when it launches later this year.
Support for kinship families
Advice and information
All kinship carers should be offered free and independent advice and information, including legal advice facilitated by extended eligibility to legal aid, from the moment they are considering becoming kinship carers and throughout their journey. Local authorities should ensure they have clear and accessible information provided to all types of kinship carers, and signpost to other support services and organisations, including Kinship and Kinship Compass – our independent advice, information and support hub.
Training and support for kinship carers
Local authorities should ensure the provision suitable local training and support services, including peer support, for all kinship carers. Professionals supporting kinship families should pay particular attention to those caring for children on their own without support, those with other caring responsibilities and those with additional health problems, signposting to other local authority and wider support services.
Emotional and therapeutic support
All children in kinship care should have access to appropriate emotional and therapeutic support given their experiences of trauma, separation and loss. The UK and Welsh Governments should consider developing a bespoke version of the Adoption Support Fund tailored to the unique needs and strengths of kinship families, and local authorities should support families to access other therapeutic services to support children and carers with issues around social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Improving the system
Local authority policy and practice
To improve the quality and delivery of support tailored to the needs and strengths of kinship families, and to build understanding and trust, local authorities should establish specialist kinship teams with the breadth of skills necessary to deliver high-quality social work support where these do not exist already. Ofsted and Care Inspectorate Wales should enhance the attention paid to kinship care practice within their inspections and undertake thematic reviews and inspector training to support this work.
A future fit for kinship care
The UK Government should ensure the forthcoming kinship care strategy for England recognises the unique nature of kinship care and delivers a comprehensive and holistic approach to reforming support for all types of kinship family, accompanied by updated statutory guidance. Welsh Government should too explore how its ongoing children’s social care reform programme can consider support for kinship families regardless of arrangement. This activity should include a focus on the equalities impact of potential reforms.
Investment in children’s social care
The UK Government must not delay significant additional investment in children’s social care at the next fiscal opportunities – particularly within the forthcoming Autumn Statement and the next Spending Review. Local authorities cannot be expected to radically recalibrate services, practice and culture to better prioritise and support kinship families without greater financial and workforce stability.
Act now: keep kinship care in the spotlight
Support our #ValueOurLove campaign by sending one quick email to the Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, David Johnston MP, ahead of the forthcoming National Kinship Care Strategy.
Looking for more?
Discover more reports, briefings and responses, and keep up to date by checking out our kinship care policy tracker.