A recent survey published by charity, Grandparents Plus, has reported that kinship care in the UK is in a state of chaos and confusion due to the way in which new carers take on the responsibility of caring for children with limited information and support being available to them.
What is kinship care?
Kinship care is where a child cannot be cared for by their parents and goes to live with a family member or close family friend. It refers to:
- Children whose living arrangements have been agreed on an informal basis by the their parents;
- Children involved in Local Authority proceedings and have subsequently been placed with kinship foster carers; or
- A child included in a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship Order.
In some instances the care of a family member or friend could dissuade the Local Authority from beginning care proceedings. Relatives and family friends can assist and support the child by caring for them in the short, medium and long-term.
They are also able to assist by offering to facilitate and supervise contact between children and their parents.
Further information on kinship care can be found here.
Kinship care report
The State of the Nation Survey Report by Grandparents Plus surveyed over 1,100 kinship carers across the country. The key findings from the report were:
- 75% of kinship carers were requested to look after the children – of this percentage, 79% were asked by a social worker, 18% by a parent, 6% by the Police.
- In 83% of instances, the Local Authority had been involved with the child’s family with regards to their care.
- 30% of the children were formerly in foster or residential care.
The results of the survey show, according to the charity, that in the majority of circumstances carers are taking on the responsibility of caring for a child in instances where there is an environment of stress and/or fear and that carers are not provided with the opportunity of knowing what information, advice or support is available to them. This is evidenced by only 16% of the respondents commenting that they had the necessary information available to them when they became a kinship carer. Additionally, half of those surveyed felt under pressure when deciding whether to become a carer or not.
The charity has called on the Government to introduce new legislation and funding to deal with the issues that they found in their report.
How can Nelsons help?
If you are kinship carer or have been asked to take on this role, Nelsons can help by providing independent expert advice on the options available to you to make sure that you are properly protected.
Melanie Bridgen is a Partner in our expert Family Law team, who specialises in all areas of children law. If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article and would like further information, please contact Melanie or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.