Have you taken on the care of grandchildren who aren’t able to live with their parents? Then you are a kinship carer. But are you getting the support you need?
Grandparents have a unique position within the family, often play an active role with their grandchildren and are relied upon by millions of families across the UK, in many different ways. But grandparents and families often face challenges and find themselves in need of support.
A 2017 report from national charity, Grandparents Plus, shines a spotlight on the challenges faced by kinship carers.
The research, based on a survey completed by over 650 kinship carers, shows that despite many stepping in to care for children who would have otherwise gone into local authority care, only one in ten carers feel they’re getting the support they need.
The survey showed some shocking results, including that: 52% of the children in kinship care have experienced abuse or neglect; the average household income for kinship families is just £17,316, compared to the national average of £27,200; 47% of carers say they are not getting the financial support they need, including 28% who feel very poorly supported and that 65% of carers say they need more emotional support.
There are an estimated 180,000 children in the care of relatives in the UK, and it’s likely that up to 95% of carers are not entitled to any statutory support. In light of the findings from the survey, Grandparents Plus go on to make a series of recommendations for policy and practice including entitlement to financial support to cover the costs of bringing up a kinship child, equivalent to the fostering allowance.
Lucy Peake, chief executive at Grandparents Plus said:
‘Family members turn their lives upside down when they step in to raise children as kinship carers. They’re doing the right thing and keeping children out of care, yet too many are struggling to get the support they and their children desperately need. The government needs to recognise and value their contribution – it makes sense to invest in supporting them properly.’
Grandparents Plus is the only national charity supporting grandparents, especially when they face the challenges of raising grandchildren as kinship carers in difficult family circumstances. They help 2,000 vulnerable families each year, providing life-changing financial, practical and emotional support to enable both the carers and children to thrive. They also provide advice and information to grandparents who are struggling to see their grandchildren.
Losing contact with a grandchild can be extremely painful and distressing, and can happen for a number of reasons. Grandparents Plus offer advice on strategies such as talking, mediation and legal advice to help families work through issues and keep the lines of communication open when difficult situations arise.
If you are a kinship carer, or you are struggling to see your grandchildren, you can access information and support or find out more about Grandparents Plus, by visiting:
www.grandparentsplus.org.uk. Or calling the advice line: 0300 123 7015.