Kinship media statement: In response to the publication of the National Kinship Care Strategy
UNDER STRICT EMBARGO UNTIL 00.01 GMT Friday 15 December 2023
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Please find below a statement by leading kinship care charity Kinship, in response to the publication of the first ever National Kinship Care Strategy, published by the Government Friday 15 December.
Dr Lucy Peake, CEO of leading kinship care charity, Kinship, said:
“The publication of the first ever National Kinship Care Strategy is significant recognition of the monumental role kinship carers play in transforming the experiences of hundreds of thousands of children, which has been overlooked and undervalued for too long. We celebrate that there will now be more support for kinship families than ever before. This is testament to all the kinship carers who have demonstrated, for decades, the value of raising children within their family network. At Kinship, we are proud to have campaigned alongside so many of them as they have battled for long overdue change. However, the investment and commitments in the Strategy fall short of the ambitious and wholesale reform needed to establish a new kinship care system that delivers the urgent transformation that all kinship families need now and into the future.
“In particular, we are delighted to see the introduction of a multi-year pilot of financial allowances for some special guardians, equivalent to the allowance foster carers are entitled to, in eight local authorities. However, too many kinship carers living outside of these pilot areas or ineligible to participate will continue to wake up each morning with the stress of wondering how they can continue to afford to keep providing a safe and loving home for their child. Kinship’s recent report, Breaking Point, found that 12% of kinship carers were concerned they may no longer be able to care for their kinship children in the next year if their situations didn’t improve, risking tens of thousands of children unnecessarily entering an overstretched care system.
“We welcome new guidance encouraging businesses to improve the support they offer to their kinship carer employees, signposting them to our pioneering Kinship Friendly Employer Scheme, but are disappointed the Government is continuing to deny kinship carers a right to statutory paid leave, like adopters are entitled to. More than 8 in 10 kinship carers told us they were forced to leave work permanently or reduce their hours after taking on the care of a child, leading to devastating consequences for families and for the state. Employers tell us they need Government to step up with statutory support to deliver the family-friendly policies which could make a difference, and the Strategy was the opportunity to do that.
“Our #ValueOurLove Campaign has fought to get children in kinship care the support they deserve. The trauma, abuse and neglect they face prior to entering kinship care mirrors the experiences of those in local authority care, but their educational and mental health needs have been disregarded by policymakers. We’re pleased that the Government has begun to address this by extending Virtual School support to kinship children too and to rebrand the Adoption Support Fund to the Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Fund, but the Strategy does not go far enough to guarantee the right educational and therapeutic support to all children in kinship care.
“We are proud that our specialist expertise and evidence developed over more than two decades working alongside kinship carers, has been instrumental in supporting the Government’s prioritisation of kinship care reform and demonstrating the value of investing in it. This is recognised in the National Kinship Care Strategy, including in its references to recent investments in Kinship to deliver the National Peer Support Programme and a national training and information offer.
“While lacking in the scale, ambition and investment needed, this National Kinship Care Strategy shows that the efforts made by kinship carer campaigners are paying off; decision makers in Government and across the political spectrum all agree that recognising and investing in kinship care should be a priority. The commitments made today provide kinship carers in England with more support and recognition than ever before, but decision-makers should consider this a starting point and urgently address the inequalities that still blight kinship families. We must be clear that this Strategy should be seen as only the very start of providing kinship families with what they need and deserve.
“Alongside kinship families, Kinship’s #ValueOurLove campaign will continue to push for the comprehensive reforms necessary to support children in need of stable, loving homes, and the inspirational kinship carers who sacrifice so much to provide better outcomes for them and for our society.”