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Kinship And / Or Family Carers ? Guidance / News / Articles : This Forum Supports Kinship Carers , CUK Does Not ! - Page 4 - Carers UK Forum

Kinship And / Or Family Carers ? Guidance / News / Articles : This Forum Supports Kinship Carers , CUK Does Not !

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
Aim to transform support for North East kinship carers.

NORTH-EAST MPs are leading a taskforce working to transform support for the ‘army of kinship carers’ who keep children in their families and without whom the care system would collapse.

Teesside MPs Anna Turley, Alex Cunningham and Mike Hill met with kinship carers in Redcar last week to hear their views on the help and support that would have made becoming a carer easier.

The MPs for Redcar, Stockton North and Hartlepool respectively are urging carers across Teesside to get in touch with the taskforce to share their experiences and ideas for changing the support available.

Kinship carers are people who take in child relatives when they can no longer live with their parents and they are commonly grandparents but can be brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, or even close family friends too.

Half of kinship carers have to give up work to raise the child, in part because unlike adopters, they are not entitled to paid leave for the child to settle in. Most are also not paid a statutory allowance as foster carers are.

Too often kinship care households end up in severe poverty, dependent upon benefits, isolated and struggling to get the help, such as bereavement counselling, that the child needs.

The number of children in the care system is at the highest level since 1985.

Ms Turley said: “We have heard from many kinship carers who find their responsibilities incredibly tough, especially if they already have children of their own.

“Even though they fulfill the same roles as foster carers, many kinship carers receive little help because they are not all recognized on the same statutory basis. Yet in taking on the care of their loved ones, they are keeping children within their family network and saving many from joining an already pressured care system.

“We want to transform the system so more children can be supported to stay with their families.”

Mr Cunningham said: “A critical part of the whole inquiry is listening to people who take on the tremendous responsibility of looking after family members.

"Only by listening and understanding can we get to the right conclusions and make the recommendations that hopefully one day will improve all their lives.”

Mr Hill added: "Ever since I was elected I’ve wanted to champion the cause of kinship carers.

"They are an army of hidden volunteers who literally save the state a small fortune, but who by and large go unrecognised.

"Working closely with organisations like Grandparents Plus, it is our ambition to get their voices heard, and their needs met."
Childcare : thousands of grandparents miss out on a pension perk.

Those who look after their grandchildren can receive national insurance credit.

Thousands of grandparents who look after their grandchildren continue to miss out on a perk that could increase their state pension.

New figures show that while more than 10,000 have made use of a scheme designed to assist grandparents who make sacrifices to help their children get back to work after the birth of a child, there are still many more who have not.

The government launched the “specified adult childcare credits” in 2011. It means that if a mother goes back to work after the birth of a child, she can sign a form that allows a grandparent, or other family member, to receive national insurance credits, provided the child is under 12.

Data obtained via a freedom of information request by mutual insurer Royal London found that the number claiming rose to just over 10,000 by 2018.

However, Steve Webb, the firm’s director of policy, says: “While it is great news that thousands more grandparents are benefiting, the numbers are still a drop in the ocean out of all those who could claim. It is increasingly common for grandparents to spend some time each week looking after their grandchildren, often to enable a parent to go out to work,” he says.

“It would be quite wrong if these grandparents suffered financially in terms of their own state pension as a result. This scheme needs to be much better publicised, and I would encourage any family with a grandparent under pension age who helps out with the childcare to find out more.”

One year of the tax credits can be worth around £250, or £5,000 over the course of a 20-year retirement.

It’s not known precisely how many people are missing out, says the firm, but according to research by charity Grandparents Plus, around two-thirds of all grandparents reported that they spent time looking after grandchildren. There are more than 7 million grandparents of all ages in Britain with grandchildren under 16.
Interesting article from Susan Hunter :

The value of kinship care.

Susan Hunter on why we should value kinship carers.

All across Scotland, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and family friends care for children because, for a variety of reasons, their parents cannot.

People who look after children in these kinds of circumstances are known as kinship carers.

For the last few years the Scottish government has funded the Citizens Advice network to run a project offering targeted advice and support for kinship carers.

When I took on the role of project coordinator for this service I thought it would be quite straightforward.

I had worked in the voluntary sector for the past 12 years and thought I knew about kinship care. How naïve!

Within a week of starting in the role I was waking in the night, wondering how I would cope if I had to take on what kinship carers do. How would my life change if I had the care of my grandchildren, nieces or nephews or the children of my friends? As much as I love my own grandchildren, the idea of having full time care of them was unimaginable to me.

Most kinship carers take on their role out of a sense of love, loyalty and devotion for the child they care for, but this does not make kinship care easy or straightforward.

To ensure the wellbeing of children in kinship care it is imperative that support is made available from the moment they are welcomed into a kinship care family.

Support agencies need to work together towards allaying the many hardships kinship carers can face when they take on their role, such as having to give up their work, their homes, their savings and the life they lived previously.

As with any form of care, the wellbeing of kinship care children is intrinsically linked to the support that is made available to kinship carers to help them do this.

In my opinion, kinship carers are often overlooked and undervalued by society. The role they take on, often in often difficult situations both practically and emotionally is invaluable and they must be celebrated and appreciated.

The Scottish Government states: “We recognise the important role played by kinship carers in providing secure, stable and nurturing homes for children who cannot be cared for by their birth parents.”

The citizens advice network across Scotland is here to help carers, working with our local CAB advisers and other agencies to deliver solutions that will make a difference to people who are in this situation.

For Kinship Care Week in Scotland this year, events are being organised for kinship carers where local agencies will promote services.

There will be workshops and taster sessions where kinship carers can gain information on a range of topics. There will also be a film launch by Star Catchers and we will provide new literature to kinship carers so that they know what support is available to them.

Kinship Care Week Scotland will raise awareness of the selfless support provided to some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children by kinship carers.

For further information email susan.hunter@cas.org.uk.

Susan Hunter is the project co-ordinator for the Kinship Care Advice Service for Scotland.
Retired pensioners spend 25% less time volunteering than 20 years ago because of grandparent duties, figures reveal.

Retired pensioners spend 25% less time volunteering now than they did two decades ago, new figures reveal, as they are forced to “plug the gap” and care for grandchildren.

Between 2001 and 2015, the total amount of time retired people spent volunteering fell from 21 minutes per day, down to 15.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also reveal that the steady downward trend is also true for people aged 65 and over - whose volunteering time per day fell from 18 minutes per day down to 14 mins per day.

The data has sparked urgent calls from the Centre for Ageing Better for charities to consider a new approach to recruiting older volunteers amid an ever-shrinking civic sector in order “to futureproof the contributions that enrich and sustain our communities”.

The data comes amid rising levels of pensioner poverty, a shrinking voluntary sector, an ageing population with increasing numbers of those living with health conditions or disabilities and people being forced to work for longer.

Experts said that increasing numbers of people will also need to provide unpaid care for loved ones, older volunteers will be needed to “plug the gap” in voluntary resources, and grandparents are being derailed from volunteering in communities in order to help sustain free care for their grandchildren as increasing numbers of parents are in work.

The charity said in a new report that “our communities currently rely on a ‘civic core’ of highly engaged individuals, who are mainly middle-aged, wealthier and white”.

However, researchers added that “there is no room for complacency that this group will be able to sustain its contributions in future”. Meanwhile, older people from less financially secure, less healthy or from a BAME background can face “structural barriers” were found to be less likely to volunteer.

The guide, entitled the Age-friendly and Inclusive Volunteering guide introduces six core principles that charities can adopt to address barriers to inclusion and widen participation of older volunteers. These include offering flexibility, providing opportunities for older people to meet, and playing to individuals’ strengths.

In a foreword for the guide, published during National Volunteers’ Week and seen by The Telegraph, Tracey Crouch MP, former minister for civil society, welcomed calls to combat the practical, structural and emotional barriers which prevent older people from volunteering.

“People in later life make essential contributions to their communities – from volunteering in schools, hospitals and charities, to popping round to visit a neighbour who is ill or alone,” she said.

“They bring a diverse range of skills, talents and life experience to help their communities thrive. We know that getting involved is good for people in later life, helping to strengthen their social connections and wellbeing.”

However, she added that the review also finds that as people move through life, “they can face a number of barriers to taking part, such as health conditions, or work and family commitments.''
Kinship Carers UK web site has had a face lift !


Kinship Carers UK is a national not for profit charity. It champions the vital role of Kinship Carers, 'Connected Families' when they take on the challenging role of permanently parenting someone else’s child.

Kinship Carers UK help kinship families succeed.

We promote loving and supportive relationships between children, young people and their kinship families.

We provide independent support, information and advice. In particular, we offer a wealth of relevant experience from kinship families to prospective kinship carers and to all those who work with them.

Kinship care consultancy offers the following :

Support groups offering advice, emotional support and encouragement

Bespoke Kinship care training to carers and professionals.

Advocacy service and peer support programme for Kinship carers.

Kinship youth club for children and young people aged 6 - 16.

Everything we do is designed to improve the day to day experiences of Kinship families by empowering and supporting them. We listen to what they say about their situation and identify, with them, positive changes that can be made.

Kinship Carers UK is a growing charity for a growing social issue. We are looking to bring about change to Kinship care policies, for a patron to advance our cause and for much needed charitable donations.
Kinship carers left with debt and ill health for " Doing the right thing. "

Campaigners call for more support for family and friends caring for vulnerable children.

Kinship carers who agree to raise the vulnerable children of relatives as an alternative to adoption say lack of state support for “doing the right thing” has pushed them into crippling debt, ill health and, in extreme cases, homelessness.

Campaigners have called for reform of a system which, they say, demands huge financial and emotional sacrifices and saves the state millions of pounds each year but fails to give kinship carers and their children enough support.

More than 180,000 children in the UK are brought up by family or friends when their parents die or are unable to care for them properly. Kinship carers can be grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings or family friends. They say they can feel coerced by councils and that their willingness to take in the children is exploited by suggestions that if they do not accept the support package on offer the children will be adopted and they may never see them again.

Kinship care is attractive to councils as it can be the best option for the child to remain within their wider family support network, is speedier than adoption and cheaper than foster care at a time when council budgets are shrinking and the numbers of at-risk children taken into care soaring.

However, campaigners say the government, which has in the past called them “unsung heroes”, and local authorities are ignoring the impact on carers and children of a system that can push them into poverty, affects their health and relationships and leaves many feeling exploited.

“Kinship carers love their kinship child or kinship children and they put their needs first and in doing so save the state significant amounts of money. But the public agencies that should be there to help too often make life more stressful,” said Cathy Ashley, the chief executive of the Family Rights Group.

A survey by the group found that three-quarters of kinship carers faced financial hardship after taking on the children. In some cases, they were forced to give up work or move to a larger home as a non-negotiable requirement of taking on the child.

A fifth said they received no financial help at all from the local authority, while more than a third said they received no practical or emotional support after taking on the children. Some were hit by benefit cuts and reforms. Some said the pressures had led to their marriage breaking down or left them unable to pay the mortgage or rent.

Half of the carers in the survey said one or more of the kinship children they were raising had special needs or disabilities, 80% had emotional or behavioural problems and 40% had learning disabilities.

Unlike foster carers and adoptive parents, who qualify for national minimum levels of support, kinship carers are subject to the discretionary arrangements of individual local authorities which choose whether and how much support to offer. Support, if provided, can be means-tested, cut or time-limited.

Last year, the local government ombudsman criticised councils for underpaying kinship carers, failing to provide promised support and cutting carers’ allowances without consultation.

Judith Blake, who chairs the Local Government Association’s children and young peoplebBoard, said councils were “doing what they can” to support kinship carers despite heavy pressure on children’s services’ budgets. “Government needs to ensure that councils receive the long-term, consistent funding they need to make sure all children and families are able to thrive.”

‘The system is loaded against ordinary people’

One day, Stuart Black, 54, and his partner were looking after the three children of a close friend while she was in hospital, the next, the friend was dead and they faced a choice: become the permanent carers of the children or see them taken into care.

Their estranged father and his wider family were not in a position to parent them. If the council took the children into care, they might be split up. The children wanted to stay with Black and his partner.

“They were lovely kids,” says Black, “and we were terrified they would be taken into care.” Their council seemed happy for them to become carers but refused to offer financial help. The council was prepared to use “emotional blackmail” to get its way, stating unless Black agreed the children would be taken into the care system.

Black ran up a debt of £4,500 to finance a legal battle which ended successfully 15 months later in the high court. Black and his partner were legally recognised as special guardians and the council was obliged to come up with a support package that recognised the costs of bringing up the children.

Black is frustrated that a long, stressful and costly process could have been avoided if the council had from the start been prepared to help them become carers and not try to avoid supporting them properly.

“The system is loaded against ordinary people who just want to do the right thing,” says Black.
An old article ... found whilst searching for something else ... important for any Scottish kinship carers dropping in.

The first section further strengthens my argument that some kinship caring arrangements are informal !

As such , thousands may be losing out on vital support services ... and additional monies !!!

The human rights of children in kinship care.

Over the past two years the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has been examining the support provided to children in kinship care in Scotland. We identified serious human rights concerns in relation to the financial support provided by some local authorities to looked after children in kinship care. To address these concerns, the Scottish Government is now providing an additional £10.1 million every year to councils to increase kinship allowances to the same level as foster allowances. This article provides an explanation of our work in this area including: our legal powers; the human rights issues and the positive change that this work has achieved.

Kinship care

Thousands of children in Scotland live full-time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends because their parents are unable to care for them. Sometimes this is a formal arrangement made with the involvement and support of local authorities and courts and sometimes it is informal and arranged within the family.

There are 4,181 looked after children in Scotland who are living with family or friends [1]. This is often referred to as formal kinship care. Looked after children are children who are in the care of their local authority and they can be looked after at home or away from home.

It is estimated that 13,000 children in Scotland are living in informal kinship care in Scotland [2]. These children may be living with family or friends under a residence order or they may be being cared for by family or friends in a private arrangement with no local authority involvement at all.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission

The EHRC was set up under the Equality Act 2006 to challenge discrimination and to protect and promote human rights in Britain. Part of our role is to identify and tackle areas where there is still discrimination or where human rights are not being respected.

We have a range of enforcement and strategic litigation powers. Our enforcement powers include inquiries, investigations, unlawful act notices and binding agreements. Our strategic litigation powers include taking judicial review proceedings in our own-name and intervening in legal cases taken by others.

The problem

Since 2007, the Scottish Government and the Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) have committed to providing allowances for looked after children in kinship care that are equivalent to the allowance paid for looked after children in foster care. However, in 2013, the Poverty Truth Commission contacted the EHRC with concerns about the number of kinship children and families living in, or at risk of, poverty. They asked us whether, using our legal powers, we could help address problems around the low levels of financial support provided to kinship families.

Taking into account our regulatory function and powers, we decided that our focus was on protecting and promoting the human rights of children in kinship care. To identify any potential violations of the rights of children in kinship care we needed up-to-date evidence about the arrangements for supporting vulnerable children in each Scottish local authority, before deciding whether enforcement action was needed and appropriate.

Using Freedom of Information legislation, we sought information from all councils about their arrangements for supporting children in kinship and foster care. We looked at the ways financial support for the maintenance and accommodation of children is provided by councils and by the UK benefits system. We also gave detailed consideration to whether there were any reasons why children in kinship care need less financial support than those in foster care.

We found children living with family or friends in a private arrangement with no local authority involvement are unlikely, because of the informal nature of these arrangements, to be entitled to financial support from the local authority. If a child is living with kinship carers in informal arrangement, the kinship carers should be entitled to claim UK state benefits for the child.

We found that all local authorities paid an allowance for looked after children in kinship care. The type of payment, what it is for, the legal power the local authority used to make the payment and the amount paid, all varied across Scotland. However, once UK benefits were taken into account, 16 out of Scotland’s 32 councils were paying equivalent allowances for looked after children in kinship and foster care. These councils based the kinship allowance on the foster allowance, minus any child-related state benefits received.

Foster carers are not entitled to claim state benefits for the children they foster. Whether kinship carers are eligible to claim child-related state benefits for looked after children (such as child benefit, guardian’s allowance and child-tax credits) depends on the legislation the local authority uses to pay the allowance. We identified nine councils that paid kinship allowances using legislation that meant the kinship family were not entitled to claim state benefits for looked after children in their care.

However, we were particularly concerned with the arrangements in four councils because in addition to using these statutory provisions, the level of kinship allowance was considerably less than the foster allowance. The lower level of kinship allowance and the inability to claim state benefits resulted in looked after children in kinship care receiving around 60 to 70 per cent less money per week than those in foster care. The differences are shown in the table below using, as an example, the allowance a 10 year old child would receive.

The human rights issues

We were of the view that the arrangements for paying kinship allowances in these four councils may be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). Section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 makes it unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right. We were concerned that these councils may have been acting in violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 8 and Article 1 of Protocol 1.

Article 14 provides that all Convention rights must be enjoyed without discrimination. Article 14 applies either when there has been a violation of one of the substantive rights in the Convention or the facts of the case fall “within the ambit” of one or more Convention articles [3]. The protection from discrimination includes a wide range of characteristics, including ‘other status.’ It has been held that ‘other status’ means a personal characteristic [4] and that this includes family status [5], such as a child being in kinship care.

Article 8 recognises the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence. It can impose a positive obligation on the state to take measures to provide support to secure private and family life [6]. However, there is a wide margin of appreciation enjoyed by states in striking the fair balance between steps the state is required to ensure compliance with the Convention and the allocation of limited state resources.

Article 1of Protocol 1 (A1P1) recognises the right to peaceful enjoyment of property and possessions. It provides that no one shall be deprived of their possessions except when it is in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law. “Property and possessions” has a very wide meaning under A1P1 and it has been held that where the state has decided to create a system of benefits or allowances, this system must be compatible with Article 14 [7].

The EHRC provided a report of our findings to the Scottish Government and COSLA. We also explained that we were minded to use our legal powers to raise judicial review proceedings against one or more of the four councils, challenging the lawfulness of their arrangements for providing financial support to looked after children in kinship care.

What’s changed?

The Scottish Government and COSLA responded positively to our concerns and immediately began working, together with Social Work Scotland (SWS), to address the issues we raised. They reached an agreement in September this year.

Councils agreed to use section 22 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 to pay kinship allowances, allowing kinship families to claim state benefits for looked after children. The Scottish Government agreed to provide an additional £10.1 million funding every year so that the kinship allowance, when combined with state benefits, will be the same as the foster allowance. This agreement applies to looked after children in formal kinship care and children who are subject to a section 11 Order (known as a Kinship Care Order).

The additional funding is available from 1 October 2015 and although it may take councils a short while to determine how much each kinship carer should receive, the Scottish Government expects payments to be backdated to 1 October. The Scottish Government also expects councils, by 1 November, to have published their foster allowance rates to ensure that parity of allowances is clear and transparent [8].

The Scottish Government is working with COSLA, SWS and kinship carer groups on developing a longer term policy on foster and kinship care allowances, which will amongst other things, respond to the changes in state benefits caused by the introduction of Universal Credit.

The outcome of the EHRC’s work on kinship allowances is a significant step forward in addressing some of the issues facing kinship families in Scotland. Significant additional funding and a change in policy have been achieved because we brought robust evidence of potential human rights violations to the attention of law and policy makers and because the EHRC has the legal powers to challenge such violations.

[1] Scottish Government 2015, Children’s Social Work Statistics 2013-14, table 1.1. p7

[2] CAB Scotland 2014, In the family way: five years of caring for Kinship Carers in Scotland

[3] Stec v the UK [2005] 41 EHRR SE 18 para 39

[4] Kjeldsen, Busk Madsen and Pedersen v Denmark (1976) 1 EHRR 711, 732-733, para 56

[5] X v London Borough of Tower Hamlets [2013] EWHC 480 (Admin) paras 99 and 100

[6] R (McDonald) v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea [2011] 4 All ET 881 para 15

[7] B v UK application 30571/06, para 36 citing Stec

[8] Scottish Government website Kinship allowances
What of numbers for England? I want to know how many other kinship carers there are in England.
No " Official " figure exists ... MOST kinship caring is done informally , and at infrequent times ... kids left to fend for themselves when a parent works would tend to count ( If
said arrangement was " Normal " for that family and at least one sibling was less abled. )

A more " Normal " kinship arrangement would be ... left in the care of grandparents ... more readily identified by the kinship charities.

If a horse race ... on a spread ... between 2 to 3 million would be my bet.

How many family carers ... 8.6 million is the latest estimated.

Including kinship carers ?

PASS ... define FAMILY ... and then KINSHIP ... and possibly all those married people " Caring " under that age old definition ... " In sickness and in health. "

Confused ?

Join all the rest of us !

And ... no LEGAL definition of either a FAMILY or KINSHIP carer exists.
Update !

The main site for kinship carers seems to have disappeared into the Internet ether.

As an alternative , Buttle UK ... " Chances for children " ... is an alternative :


Other sites out there but mainly local ones.

( Internet search ... UK KINSHIP CARERS ... for any reader wanting more of a choice. )