Kinship And / Or Family Carers ? Guidance / News / Articles / Support

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Yet another disturbing report ... today's later edition of the Guardian online :


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... re-reforms


Kinship carers " Left poor and homeless by welfare change. "'

People who give up work to raise child relatives report benefit caps, evictions and sanctions.


Family carers who agree to give up work to become full-time “parents” to the children of relatives, in order to prevent them being taken into care, are being left penniless and homeless by welfare changes, campaigners say.

Kinship carers, hailed by ministers as “unsung heroes”, are typically grandparents, aunts or older siblings who step in voluntarily to bring up child relatives after the birth parent dies or is unable to continue because of illness or neglect.

A new survey of their experiences, seen by the Guardian, shows that many are frustrated at their lack of reward for “doing the right thing”.

Several report giving up secure jobs after being warned by social services that if they did not become a full-time carer, the child would be put up for adoption. Having complied, they were often left reliant on a benefit system that punished them for not working.
Adoption and fostering are not the only options. It’s time to invest in kinship care


One in 10 respondents had their benefit capped, losing in some cases more than £100 a month, or were forced to move home. Others were sanctioned, having their benefits stopped for at least four weeks, for failing to search for jobs.

A similar proportion were forced to pay the so-called bedroom tax after moving to a bigger rented home on the advice of social services. In one case, a council’s housing officers advised a carer to move to a smaller property to avoid the bedroom tax, while its social workers insisted she keep the extra room.

A handful of kinship carers have lost thousands of pounds because of the two-child benefit limit, introduced in April, which restricts child tax credits to the first two children in a household. This affects younger carers who voluntarily parent two or more siblings, who are denied social security entitlements when they have a child of their own.

One woman, who was 18 when she became carer to her two teenage siblings 10 years ago, said: “It just seems that when you do the right thing by becoming a kinship carer, you will end up being stuck and penalised for doing something purely out of love.”

The survey of 517 kinship carers, carried out by the charities Family Rights Group and Grandparents Plus, found that nearly half had given up work and a quarter had reduced their hours, while nine out of 10 had endured financial hardship. Many had spent all their savings, or been forced into debt or rent arrears. Several said they had been evicted.

Campaigners have called for kinship carers to receive the same rights and allowances as foster carers and adoptive parents, including paid employment leave while the child is settling in. They also want kinship carers to be exempt from the benefit cap, the bedroom tax and the two-child benefits limit.

Ministers promised to exempt kinship carers from the two-child policy after a humiliating defeat over the issue in the House of Lords two years ago, following concern that it would deter potential carers from coming forward. However, it has emerged that the exemption only applies to carers who have birth children first and then become guardian to a third child – not the other way around.

The majority of the surveyed carers were bringing up children who had suffered neglect or abuse by birth parents who were often mentally ill or substance misusers. One in 20 had taken in child relatives whose parents had died. A quarter of the carers, mostly women, were already raising their own children.

In many cases the children had high support needs, including physical disabilities, mental illness, attachment disorder and emotional or behavioural difficulties. Several respondents said they were ill-prepared for the demands of caring, struggled with the extra costs and were denied support by local authorities.

An estimated 200,000 children in the UK are raised by kinship carers, saving the taxpayer billions that might otherwise be spent on foster care or children’s home fees.

Cathy Ashley, chief executive of Family Rights Group, said: “Kinship carers are doing all that could be asked of them by society and more. But instead of getting the support they and the children need, many kinship carers are left in poverty, isolated and having to battle to just make ends meet, while often also caring for very traumatised children.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Every child deserves the best start in life, and that includes having a stable, nurturing home environment. Kinship carers help many children who are unable to live with their parents.

“To help with those responsibilities, they are eligible for the same benefits as birth parents, including child benefit and child tax credits. We also require local authorities to publish information on how they support children living in these circumstances.

“Anyone experiencing difficulties should contact their local authority for advice and support.”

‘I went from a very good job to living on benefits’

Jay Godfrey was a well-off professional in her 30s with no children of her own when she became a kinship carer in 2005. Her elder sister had died from cancer, leaving three teenage daughters. Without hesitation, and practically overnight, Jay stepped in.

Becoming a carer wasn’t really a choice, Godfrey says: family love and loyalty trumped all other considerations. But she was unprepared for the pressure and disruption that turned her life upside down, or for the indifference of the authorities that had encouraged her to become legal guardian to her grieving nieces.

“My partner ended up giving me an ultimatum: it’s me or the girls. I chose the children. It was difficult; I was very isolated,” says Godfrey. “I went from a very good job, earning lots of money, having three holidays a year, to living on benefits.”

Her kinship carer experience was difficult, at times traumatic, but nine years later she did it all over again, when the daughters of her youngest niece, who had suffered episodically from serious mental illness and was in a chaotic relationship, were taken into care by social services.

Social workers encouraged Godfrey to apply for special guardianship for the children. If she didn’t, they said, the girls would probably be separated and adopted and she would never see them again. “They knew family was everything for me,” Godfrey says. “They put it forward as a choice, but they knew they would get the answer they wanted.”

The girls, now aged seven and eight, have attachment disorder and separation anxiety, yet the therapeutic support offered to them has been limited, Godfrey says. She survives on housing benefit and £310 a week in special guardianship allowance. “It puts food on the table and nothing else. My parents provided every bit of clothing the girls wear.”

It is unfair, she says, that foster carers get much more support for doing the same role, and that having eagerly facilitated the guardianship, the council now seems intent on doing the bare minimum to assist her. “I feel like I am the only one who is invested in these children to ensure they have as good a life as I can offer them.”

She would never have ducked the challenge of kinship care, she says, but she wishes the situation didn’t feel so fraught and exploitative.

But amid the stress there is hope and beauty: “The two children come in from school and put their arms around me and tell me they love me, and they make my heart sing.”



Enough fuel available in the above article to last a winter ?

Family and / or kinship carers ... the jury remains out !
A result that should verberate throughout CarerLand :


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... urt-ruling

Kinship carer benefits policy scrapped after court ruling.

Campaigners have been pressing ministers to exempt kinship carers from two-child limit.


The government has scrapped its policy of withholding benefits from kinship carers who fall foul of the two-child limit after having a child of their own.

The U-turn by the work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, on Friday comes a week after a high court judge ruled that the policy as it applied to carers who look after younger siblings to prevent them from being taken into care was “perverse and unlawful”.

The decision was welcomed by campaigners, who said ministers had “seen sense” after resisting for more than two years calls to exempt kinship carers from the two-child limit.

Ministers promised in 2016, after a defeat in the House of Lords, that kinship carers would not be penalised by the two-child limit. However, in practice it emerged that the exemption was only for carers who had children first and then became guardian to a third child, not the other way around.

Since the two-child limit came into force in April 2017, growing numbers of low-income carers – who have been praised in the past by ministers as “unsung heroes” – have lost more than £3,000 in tax credits and maternity grant entitlements as a result of the policy.

Cathy Ashley, the chief executive of Family Rights Group, said: “This is extremely welcome news. Kinship carers and adopters should never have been affected by the two-child limit on child tax credit and it’s a great shame that the government wasted money fighting this in the courts. I’m very pleased that they have now seen sense.”

McVey said she had decided to extend support to all kinship carers after “reviewing the issue carefully” for several months. “Adoptive parents and non-parental carers, known as ‘kinship carers’, have often stepped in to help a family member or close friend in times of need. They have provided support and provided a home for a child in need.

“The role these parents play in helping to bring up these children is invaluable, and I want to reassure such parents that this change ensures support will be made available to you, and this government is backing you.”

The Labour MP Melanie Onn said: “The government has been brought kicking and screaming to act in accordance with its own legislation by last Friday’s ruling from the high court. Despite eight months of my campaigning in parliament, the government had deaf ears and McVey had to be forced to this U-turn. She had no intention of doing the right thing.”

Despite the change, the same partial exemption rules remain in place for women who had a first or second child as a result of rape. They will be deemed to have breached the two-child limit and be denied benefits if they have a third child.

Alison Garnham, the chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, welcomed the kinship care decision, but said she hoped it would be followed by a decision to exempt all children conceived as a result of non-consensual sex.

Last week’s ruling by Mr Justice Ouseley said the way the exemption was applied differentially to kinship carer households defeated its purpose, which was “to encourage, or at least avoid discouraging, a family from looking after a child who would otherwise be in local authority care”.

Making the exemption available only if the cared-for child was not the first or second child was, he said, “not rationally connected with the purposes of the legislation, and indeed it is in conflict with them”.

Kinship carers continue to fall foul of other welfare reforms, including the benefit cap and the bedroom tax, and do not receive the same rights and allowances due to foster carers and adoptive parents, including paid employment leave while the child is settling in.

Children move into kinship care for a variety of reasons, including parents’ death or illness, addiction and imprisonment. An estimated 200,000 children in the UK are raised by kinship carers, saving the taxpayer billions of pounds that would otherwise be spent on care home or fostering fees.

Last year the Guardian highlighted the case of Alyssa Vessey, then 22, of Grimsby, who was 18 when she agreed with social services to give up college to formally raise her three younger siblings after the sudden death of their mother.

Vessey was denied child tax credits worth £2,750 a year and a £500 SureStart maternity grant when she conceived a child of her own last year because the DWP ruled that her siblings counted towards the household two-child limit.



Just shows what CAN be achieved IF there is a WILL to challenge the Status Quo.

I wonder how many readers are still pondering whether they are family or kinship carers ... or both ?
Came across this " Bible " when researching a posting on another thread.

Probably one of the best ever guides I have scanned :

https://www.leeds.gov.uk/docs/Kinship%2 ... 20COPY.PDF
Contents

Foreword

About this guide

1. What is kinship care?

2. Informal kinship care

3. Private fostering

4. Looked after children and kinship foster carers

5. Residence orders

6. Special guardianship orders

7. Adoption

8. Benefits and other sources of financial help for kinship carers

9. Getting legal advice

10. Helpful organisations

11. Further reading

12. Glossary

Grandparents Plus donations form

Mentor donations form
As a spin off , an article from down under , and the story of one sister caring for another :

https://www.theage.com.au/national/vict ... 502g9.html

Why caring for younger siblings can be a lonely path.

At first meeting, these two young women seem like any pair of sisters. They’re affectionate, they tease each other and finish each other’s sentences. And there’s a resemblance when they smile.

But in their modest North Melbourne apartment this extraordinary pair have embarked on a path most people will never have to contemplate.

Image

Laura Box, 31, Natalie Box, 14, and their five siblings were raised in a public housing unit in Carlton by parents who never had a formal education and sometimes struggled to care for a large family.

But they loved their children, the sisters say, and always encouraged them to go to school. Sadly, their dad died eight years ago and their mother two years ago.

Of the siblings, Laura has been the only one to finish high school and go to university, and is now a nurse in paediatric intensive care at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

When their mother died, Laura knew she wanted to raise her youngest sibling Natalie, then aged 12, and she became a young kinship carer.

“Natalie’s bright and easy to direct,” says the 31-year-old. “I sometimes struggle but my partner Matt [Doidge] helps out too and work have been really great and flexible.”

There are about 8000 children in Victoria who can’t live with their parents for a variety of reasons, including economic disadvantage and family violence.

Kinship carers - relatives or friends who become carers - form the backbone of the out-of-home care system, and there are about 4000 kinship households in Victoria. It's often assumed they are grandparents and older relatives, and little is known about the lives of young kinship carers like Laura.

Melbourne University researcher Meredith Kiraly is undertaking some of the only Australian research on young kinship carers, and has done in-depth interviews with about 37 young carers across Australia.

Typically, becoming a kinship carer at a young age means their education and employment are profoundly affected, Dr Kiraly has found. They often live in poverty and overcrowded housing.

One of the most concerning findings has been how isolated young carers feel, says Dr Kiraly. There is no dedicated support service in Australia they can contact for help.

“It’s a very disparate group, often young carers don’t know anyone in their situation,” Dr Kiraly says. “Carer support groups are mainly grandparents. A young person takes one look and never comes back.”

When Laura agreed to take on the care of Natalie, social workers from the Department of Health and Human Services were relieved. But she says they did not help her formalise the arrangement.

“They didn’t even do a check to make sure I was a normal, capable human being,” Laura says.

Laura had to apply to the Family Court herself for official guardianship of her sister, which she found frustrating. And she has never had a kinship carer allowance.

To begin with Natalie, now 14, did not want to move in. “I was pretty horrible at the start,” she says with a laugh. But over almost three years she has adjusted, made new friends, loves English and does 10 extracurricular dance classes a week (yes, 10).

Dr Kiraly is looking at establishing a pilot support service for young kinship carers.

A spokeswoman for the department said it was unable to comment on individual cases.

They said supports were available to carers where child protection investigates and substantiates concerns that requires the child to be placed in care.


Maybe another country , Australia but ... enough in this one to resonate with readers , especially kinship carers , over 'ere ?
They said supports were available to carers where child protection investigates and substantiates concerns that requires the child to be placed in care.


Just love that one !

UK ... how many kinship carers , totally informal care , and NOT know to our Authorities are there ?

Grandparent / grandchild ... brother / sister ... friend / friend ... aunt / uncle and nephew / niece ... even the less now common hired nanny ... any combination ?

Perhaps as high as 3 in 5 ???

.... and percentage in that 7.8 million ... 5 / 10 / 15 % ???

One case reported aeons ago ... 9 year daughter caring for her 5 year sister ... with mother confined to a wheelchair ... and the local SS were happy with that arrangement ... as they could function as a unit !

Talk about the carer / caree relationship being a partnership being thrown back into my face ???
Latest session with David Grayson ... CUK Chairman ... CUK does not actively support " Kinship " carers , but works closely with associated organisations.

So be it ... but I would disagree ... most kinship carers are caring through " Informal " arrangements ... not recognised in Law ... and , as such , the jury is still out as to what " Classification " they fit into ... pigeonholing at it's finest ?

Time for CUK to do their homework ... I did !

A good conundrum ... sibling is a carer ... two carees ... parent ( Family ) ... brother / sister ( Kinship ? ) ... support ?

Any reader coming across this thread ... continuing to ask questions / seek advise ... and we shall do our best to help.

Family and / or Kinship carer ?

That's for the Law to decide.
Another one from the Guardian ... Louise Tickle the author :

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ploitation

Caring for a child when their parents can’t ? The state takes you for a mug.

Special guardians and kinship carers make huge sacrifices – and save councils a fortune. But all they get in return is exploitation
Nobody likes being played.

It’s especially galling when you know from the get-go that you’re being set up. But when you’re asked in grave tones by a social worker if you’ll take in your grandchild because their mum or dad – your son or daughter – isn’t providing a safe home, then, for most people, it’s a request that’s impossible to refuse. Especially if the alternative is foster care, or, most upsetting of all, adoption. No matter that you suspect your local authority is desperate to get this child off its hands on the cheap: whatever the deal on the table, the deep emotional connection you have with a child you’ve loved since it was a baby means you’ll most likely suck it up.

Welcome to the world of special guardians. These are relatives – or sometimes friends – appointed by the family court to care for a child when its parents can’t. But with it now costing over £230,000 to raise a child from birth to 18, there are few who could easily afford such an unplanned expense, especially in their later years.

So you might think that if you’re asked by children’s services to bring up someone else’s child, you’d be entitled to financial support from the state. You might reasonably expect a good deal of practical help, even some morale-boosting emotional support when times get tough, as they swiftly will if you have to give up your job to look after a toddler, or move house to gain an extra bedroom for siblings who’ve just arrived on your doorstep, or negotiate visits with a child’s distressed and angry parents who may not appreciate the fact that you’re now in charge.

But think again. For 95% of the 180,000 children being looked after by family or friends in England there’s no entitlement to any statutory support. And a report just published by the local government and social care ombudsman shows that local authorities are comprehensively failing special guardians and, crucially, the vulnerable children they care for.


Last year 322 special guardians raised formal complaints about their treatment by their local authority: the ombudsman upheld 70% of these grievances, and found that social work teams were giving special guardians poor advice. Where financial support was offered, some councils had calculated it wrongly, arbitrarily cut the allowance, or failed to tell special guardians that this money was periodically up for review, rather than payable throughout the time the child was a minor.

Because the vast majority of children looked after by family and friends are entitled to nothing, these children have to date been a discretionary line on a fast depleting budget. Because there is no obligation to help them, quite simply councils don’t.

If you’re a special guardian who’s been having a few quid flung at you, count yourself lucky: it may not last for long.

I interviewed the adult sister of a seven-year-old boy who’s been told her special guardian allowance of £160 per week is being cut to nothing this summer. She gave up her job to care for her brother and she’ll be looking after him for the next 11 years – but on what?

A retired civil servant told me his local authority was cutting the allowance for looking after his two step-grandchildren by £6,500 a year, despite the boy having special educational needs. They have never received the equivalent of what a foster carer would get, so this family is already saving the state £35,000 a year in fostering fees. If this man and his wife hadn’t stepped in when crisis hit, these two children would undoubtedly be in vastly more expensive foster care, and very possibly split up from each other. But what were they going to do – say no?

Talk to any special guardian and they’ll say that they could not in good conscience have made a different decision, even knowing the immense financial and emotional toll it would take. But the ethics of this situation stink. Highly vulnerable children are being palmed off by the state with nothing like the support they’d be entitled to if a family member or a friend hadn’t made immense sacrifices to care for them.

But special guardians are ever so easy for local authorities to ignore. As they grow up they do far better than kids raised in long-term foster care. But it’s also clear that the people who look after them are often too beaten down to fight for a better deal than the one they’re told is all they’re going to get.

Though every kinship carer I’ve ever spoken to adores the children they look after, they know full well they’re being taken for mugs. But they’re not mugs. They’re the best of us. They deserve better than this cynical, exploitative deal where the state makes plain that its support for vulnerable children is an option, not a duty, and takes advantage of a family’s emotional bonds.


Bear in mind the sheer number of " Kinship " arrangements NOT sanctioned by the courts ... the trap that CUK itself recently fell into.

Family and / or kinship ?

Definition is debatable.

Sibling caring for both a parent and a fellow sibling ... a family and a kinship carer ?

Old kitchen sink dramas ... working mum goes out for 16 odd hours per day ... leaving eldest in charge of his / her younger siblings ... family or kinship carer in this case ? Santioned by the Courts ?

One thing for sure ... whichever ... and still be literally abandoned by all and sundry.
Interesting one on the present state of the Family Court system in this country ... especially for those kinship carers amongst our ranks ... from a true heavywight :

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/m ... 43.article

McFarlane on family justice system : Crisis, what crisis ?


Image

Calling the pressures of dealing with the unprecedented number of children cases in the family justice system a 'crisis' is no longer apt, the president of the family division has said. Sir Andrew McFarlane today told lawyers for children that he will now talk about the 'workload challenge' instead.

Addressing the Association of Lawyers for Children Conference today, McFarlane said his predecessor, Sir James Munby, was 'entirely justified' to call the impact of the rising number of cases in the family court a 'crisis'.

However, he said: 'I do not think it is helpful to those working in the system for the word "crisis" to continue to be used when, as is becoming clear, the rise in numbers represents a continuing open-ended situation. In addition, there has never been any suggestion that the higher numbers, as a single factor, indicates that the childcare sector as a whole is in "crisis". Indeed, the rise in the number of children who are now on the radar of local authority social workers might well suggest that, rather than being in crisis, the system is functioning properly.'

McFarlane is currently touring every senior designated family judge court centre in England and Wales, and has so far visited 10 out of 32. He believes everyone working in the system is 'attempting to work at, and often well beyond, capacity'. One judge told him that the workload and pressure are 'remorseless and relentless'.

McFarlane expressed concern that families are not being diverted away from court enough due to a failure in the pre-proceedings process set out in the Family Procedure Rules. He welcomed debate on whether the 26-week deadline to make a final order should be extended more often in cases where the child returns home or is placed with new kinship carers.

Summarising his address, McFarlane said: 'Whilst the use of the word "crisis" was fully justified in drawing attention to the developing situation in 2016, at a time when we did not understand what was occurring or why, that word is no longer apt as there is now a fairly clear and developing understanding of these matters and a set of strategies that are being developed to address the pressures in the system.

In terms of the title of your conference I would therefore suggest '"Crisis" NOT "Crisis"'. In future I intend to use the phrase 'workload challenge' to refer to the acute difficulties that we are all currently facing.'
Just a question asked on the Daily Chuckle's " Money Mail " section that should set off alarm bells throughout ALL of CarerLand :
Should you pay grandparents to look after the kids ? They would earn more than double their state pension if given average babysitting wage.

Grandparents would earn £19k a year if they were paid to babysit grandchildren.

More than half of parents admit grandparents provide childcare at least three times a week.

Around 40% said they preferred their child to be looked after by a family member if further babysitting was required.


Grandparents / grandchildren ... informal KINSHIP carers ?

Grandparent caring for a son / daughter ... NO CA ... overlapping benefit rule if said grandparent receives the State Pension.

But , being paid a " Wage " to care for a grandchild ?

See where this is heading ... interlocking with the DIRECT PAYMENTS and AA / PIP / DLA threads ?

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/support- ... 20payments

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/support- ... 0allowance

As they say up north ... early doors ... but yet another one to keep a close eye on ?
Kinship carers are being " Ignored and exploited " by the system , MPs are warned.

Grandparents and other relatives who step in to care for children to avoid them being taken into foster care are being “ignored and exploited” by the system, creating a “volcano that is about to erupt,” MPs have been warned.

A parliamentary task force, established in December to examine the issue has been told that the army of grandparents, aunts and uncles who find themselves, sometimes overnight, with the burden of raising someone else’s children must be given legislative rights to ensure they have adequate financial and emotional support.


( Not forgetting brothers and sisters ... cases galore over the years ... 6 year old looking after 2 younger siblings whilst parent was working ... no change there then ... over the generations ? )



That's all folks ... subscription required to read ... and then post ... the rest.
must be given legislative rights to ensure they have adequate financial and emotional support.


Here , here ! ... shout the family carers within the 7.8 million carer army.

If Kinship carers are successful ... " We demand parity with Kinship carers " ... on the cards ???

Would also make a welcomed change on the annual Carers ( Non ) Rights Day ... a Right enshrined in Law !!!!!
Not before time, Chris!