The Welsh Government has drafted a new Child Poverty Strategy to help to combat child poverty in Wales. Now it is looking for people from all walks of life to give them feedback on some of the changes they are proposing.
We know that kinship families are more likely to face financial hardship on average. That’s why it’s so important that kinship carers are not left out of this important piece of work. The Child Poverty Strategy looks at:
- What advice is available to help people access the right benefits
- How people can be better supported into paid work
- What other issues people have that can result in financial hardship and how these can be better supported e.g. poor mental health
How to respond
The draft strategy can be found here if you want to read it in full.
It is easiest to respond to the consultation using the Welsh Government’s online survey and fill out your answers there.
If you prefer, you can also download the response form as a Word document, fill out your response, and email it to TacklingPovertyAndSupportingFamilies@gov.wales
Responding to the survey
We have explained each question below and made some suggestions to help you to decide what you want to say in response. This doesn’t cover every question in the survey, only the questions we think are most relevant for kinship carers.
You do not have to answer every question. Feel free to just pick the areas below where you feel like you would have the most to say. Please draw on your personal experience as far as possible – you can ask that your response is kept anonymous. You don’t have to share any information that you aren’t comfortable with.
Each question starts with a multiple choice about whether you agree that the objective/priority is clear. You can skip this part and put your answer in the textbox underneath.
Please answer any of the below questions:
Question 2b: Is the information about what we have heard and what the Welsh Government is doing in relation to Objective 1 clear and accessible?
In the draft strategy, Objective 1 is: to reduce costs and maximise the incomes of families. The Government is already looking at specific support for Special Guardianship families and is considering ways to ensure that kinship carers could get equal financial support to mainstream foster carers.
What to say
In this section it is important to emphasise the ways that all kinship carers need access to financial support, regardless of the legal status of the kinship arrangement You might want to talk about:
- The importance of financial support for kinship carers
- If the financial support you do receive (if any) is enough and what impact receiving financial support has had in your family.
- If you don’t receive any financial support, explain that not all kinship carers receive any help and the impact this has had on you and your family
It could be good to mention:
- Any additional costs to you and your family as a result of becoming a kinship carer
- What things, if any, have you had to cut back on?
- If you’ve had to borrow money to pay day-to-day expenses
- If you’ve had to make difficult choices about where you spend your money
- If you have ever had to consider your role as a kinship carer because of the costs and/or lack of financial support
You might want to request that:
- All kinship carers receive financial support to meet the real-life costs of looking after a child
- That any existing pots of money e.g., the School Essential Grant, be clearly available for kinship children (regardless of their legal status and if they are defined as Looked After Children)
Question 3: Do you agree that Priority 1 should be a priority for the draft strategy?
In the draft strategy, Priority 1 is about making sure that people who need to claim benefits and other financial supports are able to access information face-to-face. Part of this would also include simplifying the Welsh Benefits system to make it easier to apply for benefits.
Under question 3, there is a free text box that allows you to comment on Priority 1 of the strategy.
What to say
In your response, you might want to talk about
- Any experience you have of seeking information, advice and support around financial entitlements.
- What was most helpful to you?
- Is face-to-face support what you need most?
- If not, how would you like to receive this type of advice?
- On the “Welsh Benefits system”, you can talk about how important it will be to make sure that kinship carers can access any financial supports that would otherwise be available to parents, foster carers or adoptive families.
- Please share experiences you have had in struggling with eligibility for any financial support because kinship care isn’t properly recognised.
Question 4b: Is the information about what we have heard and what the Welsh Government is doing in relation to Objective 2 clear and accessible?
Objective 2 is about supporting parents and carers out of poverty (using the definition at the bottom of the page) and ensuring children and young people who might be at risk of being in poverty in the future have good educational support and help into paid work.
Under question 4b, there is a free text box that asks about Objective 2 of the strategy and the description of activities that Welsh Government has said it is undertaking to meet Objective 2.
What to say
In your response, you might want to talk about:
- If you have had any difficulties as a kinship carer accessing childcare
- How the child or children you care for might need extra help in school in the same way as Looked After children need that help.
- You can also use your response to this question to highlight any concerns on the system for those with additional learning needs if this is relevant to you.
Question 5: Do you agree that Priority 2 should be a priority for the draft strategy?
Priority 2 is about making Wales a nation with improved work conditions and opportunities for all
Under question 5, there is a free text box that allows you to comment on priority 2 of the strategy.
What to say
In your response you might want to talk about:
- The need for paid kinship care leave. This would be paid time off work like maternity or adoption leave that you would be allowed to take when a child first comes to live with you. This would allow you to help them settle and then have a job to go back to so that you could support them financially.
Please note: The Welsh Government can’t introduce a right to kinship care leave. This is something the Westminster Government would have to do and is something that Kinship is campaigning for.
What the Welsh Government could do is put pressure on the Government in Westminster to introduce Kinship care leave and encourage Welsh employers to introduce paid leave as part of enhanced benefits that they offer.
If paid kinship care leave is an issue that is important to you:
- Highlight that you support Kinship’s campaign in Westminster for kinship care leave and ask Welsh Government to support the campaign.
- Outline how paid leave from work when you became a kinship carer would have helped you.
Question 6b: Is the information about what we have heard and what the Welsh Government is doing in relation to Objective 3 clear and accessible?
Objective 3 is ensuring that people on low incomes have the broader support they need, such as with mental health and wellbeing
Under the description of current activity, the draft strategy outlines that the Welsh Government is developing a new mental health strategy.
Under question 6b, there is a free text box that asks about Objective 3 of the strategy and the description of activities that the Welsh Government has said it is undertaking to meet Objective 3.
What to say
This is an opportunity to make sure that the Welsh Government is thinking about kinship carers and children living in kinship care as part of the new mental health strategy.
- It would be useful to say that you are pleased to see that there will be a new mental health strategy.
- You could also talk about what types of emotional and mental health support have helped you and your family or would have been helpful to you and recommend that this is looked at as the mental health strategy is developed.
That’s it! Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to this piece of work. We know from our work in other areas how impactful it can be when you make your voice heard.
If you need any support responding to the survey and want to make your voice heard, please contact the Kinship Campaigns Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We can answer questions by email or arrange a phone or video call to help you.
What does the Welsh Government mean by “Child Poverty”?
The Welsh Government’s definition of poverty is very broad:
“A long-term state of not having sufficient resources to afford food, reasonable living conditions or amenities or to participate in activities (such as access to attractive neighbourhoods and open spaces) that are taken for granted by others in their society.”
This means that the Welsh Government wants to hear from you if you:
- have regularly needed to limit or skip meals or have struggled to put food on the table;
- have found it difficult to stay consistently in housing or in housing with enough space for your whole family;
- have faced challenges accessing basic activities for your child including nature;
- or have ever faced financial hardship as a result of the additional cost of being a kinship carer