The Local Government Ombudsman has issued a landmark report today slamming the way in which local authorities often treat family and friends carers who are raising children who cannot live with their parents.
Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive of Family Rights Group commented...
“The Local Government Ombudsman’s report shines a light on an area of child welfare which for too long has been neglected by Government and gets the Cinderella treatment by local authorities.
“We know from the thousands of calls that we deal with on our advice line, as well as research studies that we have undertaken that the injustices highlighted by the Local Government Ombudsman are common place.
“Action is needed now by central and local government. Councils are under financial pressures but there is no justification for their failing to comply with the law, and forcing some children in family and friends care into financial hardships without access to essential help, such as bereavement counselling.
“Central government also needs to step up to the mark. They have the opportunity in the Children and Families Bill to:
- Introduce a national financial allowance so children in family and friends care aren’t forced into the care system as the only means of getting the help they need;
- Introduce new duties on local authorities to provide support services for all children being raised in family and friends care who cannot live with their parents regardless of their legal status;
- Enable family and friends carers raising children outside the care system to have a right to paid leave when they take on the children, just as the Government is doing for adopters, so that they are not forced to give up their job and become reliant on benefits, when they take on the children.
The office switchboard and our telephone advice line will be closed from 3.00pm Tuesday 24th December, 2013 and will reopen 9.30am on Thursday 2nd January, 2014. We will be operating a limited advice service in response to postings on the discussion board and to emails.