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New frequently asked questions guide regarding Ukrainian children and young people living in kinship arrangements in England

Published: 27th July 2023

2 minute read

Kinship care involves a child, temporarily or permanently being raised by a relative or a friend of the family or connected person who is not their parent. There are increasing numbers of children in the UK who have fled the war in Ukraine and who are being raised by kinship carers, although precise numbers are not known. Such arrangements may have arisen in several different ways, including situations where the child left Ukraine with their relative, or travelled alone and arrived in the UK to live in safety with a relative resident in this country. The child may have arrived in the UK with their parent who has subsequently returned to Ukraine. The carer may be a sponsor under the Homes for Ukraine scheme who was known to the child’s family and who is now caring for the child.

The entitlement and eligibility of children in kinship care in England, and their carers, to practical, emotional, and financial support is largely dependent upon the child’s legal status or type of arrangement. The system can be hard to navigate with significant variation between localities. Such difficulties are compounded for children and their families fleeing the war in Ukraine. The situation facing them when they arrive here is complex. There are three legal immigration routes for those affected by the conflict. The rules differ under each and have been subject to several changes over the past twelve months.

We know that for many children kinship care is the best option when children cannot live at home. Research shows that kinship children have more stable home lives, better educational outcomes, and a stronger sense of identity than children raised away from their families.

For Ukrainian children, these benefits are especially important. The traumatic impact of the war itself, can be compounded by the sense of loss of leaving their home and country. Kinship care arrangements can help children to maintain a strong link to their Ukrainian heritage and culture as well as preserving a connection to their families back in Ukraine which could prove essential for reunification when the war eventually ends.

In recognition of this, Family Rights Group’s Chief Executive Cathy Ashley brought together Family Rights Group, Coram BAAF, Coram Children’s Legal Centre and Children and Families Across Borders to produce a Frequently Asked Question (“FAQ”) guide to help these families. It is written for social workers, other practitioners and the families themselves. The work has been generously funded by Save the Children UK.

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