At Kinship, we work across England and Wales to support kinship families and deliver change to policy and practice. Here’s a roundup of some recent activity from the Welsh Government and the Senedd, and how we’re working to improve support for all kinship carers and their children in Wales.
Welsh Government responds to Committee report on children’s social care
Last week, the Welsh Government responded to a report from the Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee into children’s social care. The Committee’s earlier report recommend that the Welsh Government should consult on the support needs of kinship carers in Wales and look at the rules around financial support for kinship carers.
Responding to the recommendations, the Welsh Government made some commitments around support for kinship foster carers, but didn’t make any specific commitments around other forms of kinship care. Their response:
- highlighted an existing commitment to ensuring kinship foster carers and mainstream foster carers receive the same level of financial support. They also said their current review of fees and financial allowances for foster carers will be looking to ensure that kinship foster carers can access enhanced allowances where they meet the relevant criteria.
- committed to reviewing the regulatory framework to determine if changes need to be made to the assessment of kinship foster carers.
- confirmed that kinship foster carers were entitled to the same package of training, support, and rewards as mainstream foster carers.
- set out their intention to expand the remit of the Special Guardianship Expert Group to also include the use of and support available for kinship foster carers.
It’s vital that there is no discrimination between mainstream and kinship foster carers in terms of financial support, and we’ll be looking carefully at the criteria for enhanced allowances to make sure this is fair for kinship foster carers. Any changes to assessment and approval must not result in a narrowing of eligibility too; kinship foster carers should be eligible to receive the financial, practical and emotional support their family needs. Local authorities across Wales should work with kinship foster carers and other kinship carers to understand the unique needs and strengths of kinship families and deliver training and support which reflects these. We’d also like to see wider reform programmes and Expert Groups led by the Welsh Government consider all types of kinship care.
Pushing for more, and for all kinship families
Although these plans are welcome, the Welsh Government needs to move further and faster on kinship care, and take a holistic view to ensure that all kinship families – regardless of legal status – can access the support they need and deserve.
To that end, we sent a briefing to Members of the Senedd ahead of a debate on the Government’s response to the Committee’s report which took place earlier this week. Our briefing highlighted the need for greater financial, practical and emotional support for kinship families based on evidence from our research and advice and support work with kinship families across Wales, such as our Kinship Connected programme in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
During the debate, Deputy Social Services Minister Julie Morgan has told MSs that the Welsh Government greatly values kinship care and is looking to take action to support kinship carers. The Minister will answer further questions on the Welsh Government’s plans to reform social care at a meeting of the Children, Young People and Education Committee on 14th September. We will be contacting the Committee before then to highlight where we think reform is needed for kinship carers as well as writing to the Minister directly.
Welsh constituents meet their MPs in Westminster
On the same day as the Senedd debate, we were also pushing the UK Government on its kinship care commitments by hosting a parliamentary drop in for MPs and Peers in Westminster so they could meet with kinship carers and learn more about our #ValueOurLove campaign.
Although children’s social care is a devolved issue, some potential reforms led by the UK Government could impact on kinship families in Wales too. This includes our call for kinship care leave – a new entitlement to paid employment leave for kinship carers which matches that given already to adoptive parents.
At our event, kinship carers Lorna and Adele were able to meet with their respective MPs – Kevin Brennan as MP for Cardiff West and Chris Elmore as MP for Ogmore. Lorna and Adele made the case for greater support for kinship families and we were delighted to have the backing of both Kevin and Chris as Welsh MPs, as well as support too from Christina Rees as MP for Neath.
As part of our #ValueOurLove campaign, we’re continuing to work with kinship carers in Wales to identify priorities for change, and we’ll be launching a new phase of the campaign in Wales later this year. If you want to make sure you’re kept up to date, you can sign our petition and get relevant emails from us at valueourlove.kinship.org.uk.