We’re changing our name from Grandparents Plus to Kinship so we can fight for the rights of every kinship carer and support more people who desperately need us in a time of crisis. Here’s how.
[You can read this page in Welsh here]
What is a kinship carer and what is kinship care?
Kinship carers are the people who step up – sometimes without even a moment’s notice – to raise someone else’s children when their parents aren’t able to. They put their own lives on hold, disrupting their futures to take on children who desperately need stability and security within a loving home, often in times of family crisis.
There is more and more evidence that children who are kept within the family have better outcomes. But many kinship carers face enormous challenges with very little support. At a time when the number of children in local authority care is higher than it’s been for decades, kinship carers are playing an essential role raising and caring for hundreds of thousands of children.
We are here for every kinship carer who needs support – and they need to know it
Our charity – formerly Grandparents Plus, now Kinship – has been supporting, connecting, and fighting alongside kinship carers for more recognition and support since 2002. About half of kinship carers are grandparents, but many are siblings, aunts or uncles, or friends.
Everything we do is informed and shaped by kinship carers, and we’ve talked to thousands of them about how we can help them more. We’ve been aware that our name doesn’t reflect what we do, or the diversity of the kinship care community.
Some kinship carers are still in their twenties or thirties. People have to put education, careers relationships and plans on hold, as they are thrown into raising someone else’s children. Some won’t have yet thought about starting a family or may still be getting to know their own young children.
So there’s a big difference between what our name says and what we do. And this is really important. Because this confusion stops us from reaching kinship carers who wouldn’t even consider we could help. Confusion also leads to people who can make changes not recognising the scale of kinship care, not understanding what kinship carers do and not understanding why they need to be properly supported.
This isn’t just a hunch. We’re plugged into the heart of the kinship care community and through our extensive networks of kinship carers, professionals and service providers, we know that right now, there are kinship carers who desperately need the support we can provide, but don’t know we exist.
We want to make kinship care easier to understand
Kinship care is complicated. There is already too much confusion about what a kinship carer is and does, what they’re called, and what status they hold in the eyes of the legal system and local authorities. This affects the support they are entitled to and their rights to keep caring for the children who come to them. Whether they’re classified as ‘friends and family carers’, ‘connected persons’, ‘special guardians’ or ‘kinship foster carers’ they are all kinship carers and share the same experiences, challenges, joys and struggles.
That’s why we want everyone raising the children of family or friends to be known as kinship carers. Grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, close family friends. Special guardians, connected people, family or friends carers. It doesn’t matter about the relationship or the child’s legal order – they are all kinship carers and we are here to support them all.
A name that makes kinship carers visible and impossible to ignore
Through the work we do and the communities we support, we are giving an identity to forgotten carers and children. We are already connecting them to each other and to us. But it’s time to change. We need to break our own boundaries and redefine what we’re able to achieve. We are going to revolutionise the understanding of kinship care, starting with a new name that embodies the families we are here for. A name that is visible, relevant, and impossible to ignore. A name that signifies a more powerful community and a movement for change.
By becoming Kinship, we’re determined kinship care will become part of everyday language. There will be no more confusion about what a kinship carer is, the challenges they face or the support they need.
Kinship carers and the children and young people they love and raise have said they need this understanding. They are calling out for clarity and recognition of who they are and what they do – at school, at the doctors, at the hospital, in the workplace.
Putting kinship care centre-stage
Changing our name from Grandparents Plus to Kinship is about standing side by side with kinship families to tackle invisibility together and put kinship care centre stage. It’s an essential step if we want every kinship family to get life changing support and recognition. We need to keep building on what we’ve already achieved and a big part of this is to be there – and be seen to be there – for every kinship carer, no matter who they are.
We are proud of all we’ve achieved in almost 20 years of fighting for recognition and support for kinship carers. But they deserve more. We’re changing our name now confident it will better reflect our purpose and our people and to signal our determination that we are here to make kinship care a critical issue that will no longer be side-lined.
We are Kinship. We are here for every kinship family and we look forward to working with you, so that every kinship family gets the recognition and support they deserve.
Read our answers to questions that have been asked about our name change here.