This survey has provided an overview of kinship carers’ experiences over the past 12 months and highlighted some of the challenges associated with caring for children in kinship care.
Children in kinship care have often suffered trauma and commonly have additional needs. Kinship carers also often have their own additional needs. However, most families did not receive the support they needed to cope with the challenges they faced.
Despite the hardships they faced, this survey highlighted the kinship carers’ unwavering love and dedication to the children in their care. Most regard the children as permanent members of their family and intend to care for them until they reach adulthood.
The survey has demonstrated the positive impact that support can have on kinship families. Some schools appear to be developing good support systems for kinship families, with many providing additional support to children as required.
Although 70% of carers did not feel supported by their local authority, this percentage has reduced from the previous year. In the previous year, 82 % of carers reported feeling unsupported by their local authority.
Our programme Kinship Response support service, delivered nationally during the pandemic, may be responsible for some of the reduction in this number. These findings highlight the need for providing long-term and targeted support to kinship families.
A Kinship Care Act
Kinship care must be recognised in law to ensure all kinship carers and the children they care for have access to the support and information they need when they need it.
Local authorities must do more to support kinship carers in their areas
Local authorities must do more to support all kinship carers in their areas- and provide adequate support and information services. Some local authorities are investing in independent specialist support for their kinship carers through Kinship. We recommend more need to do this.
Specialist and independent advice to be universally available to kinship carers
Specialist and independent advice to be universally available to kinship carers to ensure they are made aware of their rights as soon as possible. They need access to free, independent legal advice in order to make informed decisions about the care arrangements they make for the child. All universal services offering support to families should develop a specific policy for working with kinship care families..
Comprehensive support to be universally available to kinship carers
Comprehensive support to be universally available to kinship carers specific to the needs of every kinship family as soon as they begin looking after the child. This support needs to be offered by specialist professionals with an understanding of kinship care families. Carers should also be able to access peer support in the areas where they live. Kinship is already working with some local authorities to do this.
Financial support to be universally available to all kinship carers
Financial support to be universally available to all kinship carers Equivalent to the minimum fostering allowance. This allowance should not be means tested and should be paid until the child is at least 18 years old or until they leave full-time education.
There needs to be a better understanding of kinship care among professionals and wider society
There needs to be a better understanding of kinship care among professionals and wider society to ensure kinship carers feel valued for the important role they take on and the sacrifices they make.
A greater voice for kinship carers, particularly kinship carers from ethnic minority communities and informal carers and sibling carers
A greater voice for kinship carers, particularly kinship carers from ethnic minority communities and informal carers and sibling carers – kinship carers’ experiences should be at the heart of all decisions made about them.