Kinship, the leading charity for kinship carers in England and Wales, is today launching its new Kinship Friendly Employer scheme, at a roundtable meeting with the Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing and a number of high-profile businesses and employers.
At a roundtable jointly hosted by Kinship and Minister David Johnston MP, trail-blazing employers including Tesco, Card Factory and B&Q will come together to discuss how kinship carers can be better supported in the workplace.
The topics of discussion will focus on what organisations could or already offer, the challenges this may present, and how these could be addressed by Government action, as well as the policies of employers.
At the roundtable, Kinship will launch its new Kinship Friendly Employer scheme, which provides a free framework for any employer to provide more support for their kinship carer colleagues.
Kinship carers step up to provide a loving home for the children of family or friends, when their parents are unable to. There are more than double the number of children in kinship care than foster care, but kinship families often feel invisible and unsupported. Kinship carers urgently need more support from both Government and employers to stay in work, to maintain their income, job security and career prospects.
There is currently no statutory provision for kinship care leave in line with other family leave, such as maternity leave and adoption leave.
Kinship’s ‘Forced Out’ report, based on a survey of 500+ kinship carers, showed the employment consequences of this inequality for kinship carers. 68% of respondents said their employer didn’t offer support to kinship carers. More than 4 in 10 (41%) kinship carers told us they had to leave work permanently and further 45% were forced to reduce their working hours.
When employers do support kinship carers in their workforce, it can make a massive difference. Katie, who works in HR for cardfactory, became a Special Guardian for her niece and will share her experiences, expertise and aspirations at the roundtable meeting today.
Reflecting on her experience of helping cardfactory develop a Kinship Friendly policy, Katie said: “I was given immediate trust and told that as long as the work got done everything was fine. That made a massive difference to me…(cardfactory) are an inclusive friendly employer, and they didn’t hesitate to extend paid leave to kinship carers… in fact, its enhanced leave….There’s no reason why kinship carers shouldn’t have parity with adopters or birth parents when it comes to paid leave”.
Kinship is calling for the government to introduce statutory paid leave through its #ValueOurLove campaign. However, in tandem, it has worked with a range of employers to develop the Kinship Friendly Employer scheme to enable organisations to seize the initiative to support their kinship carer colleagues.
Kinship’s CEO, Dr Lucy Peake, who will announce Kinship Friendly Employer scheme at the roundtable, said:
“Kinship is proud to be working with a number of employers committed to providing excellent support to kinship carers in their workforces and we’re thrilled today to launch our Kinship Friendly Employer scheme to enable more organisations to recognise, value and support kinship carer colleagues.
“Kinship’s research shows how kinship carers are being forced out of work and kinship families are at financial breaking point. It is vital for the Government to use its forthcoming Kinship Care Strategy to introduce statutory leave on a par with leave for foster and adoptive families. In the meantime, we are very pleased that our Kinship Friendly Employer Scheme will enable businesses and employers across all sectors to seize the initiative themselves to implement policies to provide vital support to their kinship carer colleagues”.
More information about the Kinship Friendly Employer scheme is available here: https://kinship.org.uk/get-involved/kinship-friendly-employers/