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Kinship carers lacking vital support

Local authorities are failing to provide adequate support for family and friends carers, research from the charity Family Rights Group suggests.

When children are unable to live with their parents, they should be enabled to live with a member of their extended family or social network, yet research has highlighted a lack of support for these carers and the estimated 250,000 children living with them.

Studies show that one in five children were first placed in unrelated foster care before moving to a ‘kinship carer’, causing extra upheaval as well as unnecessary burdens on the social care system.

Despite government requirements to do so, 45% of councils have not published a family and friends care policy. 44% of these carers received no help from local authorities, and 70% of those who did receive support rated this as poor or very poor.

Chief executive of Family Rights Group, Cathy Ashley, said: “We know that the system simply cannot cope with the increasing numbers of children going into care – there’s a shortage of foster carers and there are huge delays in the court system.

“The amount and type of support carers receive from local authorities appears to bear little or no relationship to the child’s or carer’s needs, which is absolutely shocking.

“Councils’ failure to help and support people through the legal minefield when they are raising children that would otherwise be the authority’s responsibility is a dereliction of duty. The consequence is that carers, and, by direct implication, the children, are denied the legal, financial and practical support they are rightly entitled to.

“We want to see local authorities being audited and properly funded to ensure that guidance is being effectively implemented across the country. At present, that clearly isn’t happening.

“In the longer term, legislation is required to establish and fund a support framework and a national financial allowance for family and friends carers.”

Image c. Dave Buchwald

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