Kinship’s new report – Forced Out: delivering equality for kinship carers in the workplace – highlights that more than eight in 10 kinship carers (86%) are either forced out of the workforce or to reduce their hours when they take on the care of a child, plunging kinship families into poverty and leading to significant additional costs to the state.
The new figures show that a lack of employment support is forcing a significant number of kinship carers to stop working in order to provide care for the children they step up to raise. This often leaves kinship families in significant financial hardship.
Building on its #ValueOurLove campaign launched last year, Kinship is once again urging the UK Government to commit to statutory paid leave for kinship carers on a par with adoptive parents, in its National Kinship Care Strategy promised by the end of 2023.
We are also proud to be working with pioneering employers to develop a Kinship Friendly Employers initiative to encourage and support organisations to introduce policies that support, understand and respect their kinship carer employees As we launch today’s report, we are encouraging more employers to deliver kinship friendly employment policies which support employees who are caring for the child of a relative or friend.
Our new report, which surveyed more than 500 kinship carers in England and Wales found that:
- 86% were either forced out of the workforce (41%) or forced to reduce their hours (45%), when they took on the care of a child
- 68% said their employers did not offer any support to kinship carers, such as paid leave or flexible working hours, when they took on the care of a child
- 28% were forced into claiming benefits when they took on the care of a child
- More than one-third saw their incomes slashed by over 50% when they stepped up to care for a child who needed a loving home
Since October, 12,600 people have joined Kinship’s #ValueOurLove campaign calling on the Government to equalise paid leave between kinship families and adoptive families, as one of a number of urgent measures to improve support for kinship families.
Dr Lucy Peake
“These findings show the sharp contrast between workplace support given to adopters and parents, and that which is available to kinship carers.
“Time and time again, kinship carers tell us that they have been pushed out of jobs and plunged into poverty, because they stepped up to care for a child who was in need of a stable home.
“The Government needs to introduce a legal requirement for all kinship carers to have the same access to paid leave and other workplace entitlements as parents and adopters. This would alleviate some of the extreme financial hardship kinship families are facing, helping to keep vulnerable children within loving homes and out of the care system. It would also give these children, who have experienced trauma and loss, time to settle into their new homes.
“We are also encouraging employers to consider the needs of kinship carers alongside others who have parental responsibilities, in their family friendly policies. We are developing a ‘Kinship Friendly Employers’ initiative to encourage and support organisations across England and Wales to start making these changes and I’m delighted at the positive response we’ve already had from a number of pioneering employers.”
Leading specialist card and gift retailer cardfactory recently introduced paid leave for kinship carers. Jen Lawrence, Executive Director for People and Transformation at cardfactory said: “We recently introduced kinship leave to complement and enhance our approach to family friendly policies, recognising the diverse needs of our colleagues. The introduction of kinship leave for all colleagues across our business is an example of how we are working to ensure our colleague offer is inclusive and enables work life balance for all.”
Kinship carer Natalie, 33, from Bradford took on the care of her nephew when he was 10 weeks old. Natalie said: “It was an emergency situation when I took care of my nephew. I had been working as a teaching assistant and was looking forward to going back to work in September, as I’d been offered a two year contract. I explained to the school about my nephew and, although they were very empathetic, they were unable to offer me any paid leave. Social services said I had to manage contact with my nephew and his parent four times a week. Without paid leave, I was forced to quit my job and go on benefits. It was an absolute nightmare. Paid parental leave would have made a massive difference to us all because I could have gone back to work after things had settled down. (…) My nephew and I would have had time to bond and get to know each other without having to worry about money.
“When I had maternity leave with my children, I had the chance to come up for air and relax during that time with them. But with my nephew, I went from being an independent woman in work, to being on benefits and using my savings and having sleepless nights.”