A tried and tested model helping local authorities improve outcomes for special guardians and other kinship carers through intensive one-to-one support and peer support groups.
Not sure if you can refer a kinship carer? Find out if your local authority commissions Kinship Connected.
What is Kinship Connected?
Kinship Connected offers a tried and tested model to help you meet your requirements to the Family and Friend Care: statutory guidance for local authorities.
To date Kinship Connected has been delivered in 25 local authorities to provide high quality, tailored and value for money support.
Kinship Connected helps kinship carers develop long-term supportive networks which result in a more stable and supportive environment in which the children in their care can thrive.
Our experienced project workers – many are kinship carers themselves – are normally embedded within local authority teams and work within the the community.
The programme includes:
- intensive one-to-one family support from experienced project workers. They provide one-to-one family support, offering guidance and helping kinship carers find the support they need.
- the development and management of peer support groups in the community. They support kinship carers to set up groups and train volunteer support group leaders so that they can become self-sufficient, reducing dependency on statutory services.
Kinship carers tell us how invaluable the support is from our project workers. Without their steady, independent, ongoing guidance, support and motivation, as well as intervention during turbulent times, many carers would struggle and support groups would find it difficult to keep going.
Why did we develop Kinship Connected?
We developed the predecessor to Kinship Connected – Relative Experience, funded by the Big Lottery – in 2013, based on feedback from kinship carers telling us of the value of peer support and the need for independent, specific support.
- 53% of kinship carers took on the role in a crisis situation
- Only 17% said the social worker explained the Family & Friends Care Policy
- Only 16% got the advice and information they needed
- Only 11% said they received the emotional support they needed (90% had not been told about peer support groups)
- 7 out of 10 kinship carers report feelings of isolation, depression or anxiety
- A third have multiple caring responsibilities
- 52% of children in kinship care have experienced abuse and/or neglect
- 27% of kinship carers felt that contact with parents was harmful or very harmful for children
The difference it makes
So far, over 1,600 kinship carers have received intensive one-to-one support and over 50 peer-led support groups have been established across the country.
The model works. Not only does it provide the much-needed one-to-one advice and support to kinship carers, it improves kinship carers’ social networking opportunities and peer-to-peer support. This is a vital form of support for a very vulnerable group of people who often receive very little practical or financial support from social services
We realised that their concerns were not simply financial, but were part of a wider need to be recognised and supported by the council. By having someone who can mediate on our behalf, and by showing that we want to support kinship carers, relationships are beginning to improve.
[Our project worker’s] been amazing. Nothing is too much trouble. She has liaised with housing about my debt issues and advised me on so many things. She has said if ever I need help, to ask her.
An independent evaluation by York Consulting found of the 550 families we supported in 2014 – 2017, the number of children on Child Protection Plans reduced by 86% and those on Child in Need Plans by 88%, equating to considerable savings for local authorities.
The evaluation concluded that there was clear evidence of the positive impact on kinship carers and their families, including a statistically significant positive impact in the following areas:
- Reduced isolation: kinship carers are supported to meet people in the same situation, share experiences and seek advice and support from peers
- Decreased financial concerns: kinship cares are supported to access financial support they are entitled to including welfare benefits and emergency grants
- Lower levels of concern: especially around managing children’s behaviour and supporting their health and wellbeing
- Improved relationships: particularly with other family members
- Increased confidence: kinship carers feel more able to cope with their role and responsibilities
Who is Kinship Connected for?
Kinship Connected is for any kinship carer, most often special guardians, who need support and are living in one of the local authorities who commission our service.
How do I get Kinship Connected in my area?
For more information about commissioning Kinship Connected for your own local authority, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kinship Connected Evaluation 2020
In August 2020 Kinship Connected was externally evaluated by Starks Consulting Ltd and Ecorys.
The evaluation found that Kinship Connected had a very positive impact on kinship families, helping to reduce isolation and concerns regarding children, an increased sense of connectedness with others, and greater resilience and pride in the caring role.
The evaluation concluded that the support offered by project workers through the Kinship Connected programme and associated peer support groups was seen as being ‘vital’ by kinship carers who had previously felt neglected and isolated.
Other support we offer
The Kinship Care Guide for England contains everything kinship carers need to know. Bulk order for kinship carers in your local authority and receive a 15% discount.
Join our Kinship Care Professionals Network to stay up-to-date with news from the world of kinship care, find out about new developments and services, and the latest events and research reports.
Research, statistics and the latest developments related to kinship care.
All kinship carers, regardless of legal order, can access our free, specialist advice service – online, via email or over the phone.
All kinship carers can join our free community where they can take part in surveys and campaigns, discuss issues that affect them, attend events, share tips and advice, and hear about discounts, local events, days out and much more.