We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.
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To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). For Textphone dial 18001 followed by the advice line number. Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.
Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.
Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.
On 21st June, the APPG met with the Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, Claire Coutinho MP, to discuss the upcoming national kinship care strategy.
MPs and Peers, alongside kinship carers Shanayd Warren and Stuart Black, put their thoughts and questions to the Minister, who said the Government want to get to a place where kinship care is valued and properly supported.
The key issues discussed included: mental health support, employment rights, financial allowances, the lack of a kinship care definition, inequalities faced by carers and children from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and the Government’s new training offer.
Family Rights Group’s Public Affairs Manager wrote a blog about what we learned from the session – read here
The Budget had little to say on children’s social care beyond the announcements made in January in the Government’s implementation strategy.
The one exception being an uplift to the threshold for Qualifying Care Relief which could be worth up to £450 pa to qualifying foster and kinship carers. This is income tax relief for carers who receive payments for raising children placed with them by the local authority. In practice, foster carers including kinship foster carers will benefit from this reform. Financial help for kinship carers more broadly is hugely variable and some receive no support. The government’s immediate plans in this area remain unclear.
The extension of free childcare to include families with children aged 9 months up to 3 years will, once implemented, be beneficial to some kinship families who are in work. However, some will continue to be caught short such as if they work too few hours or are in education or training. Moreover, half of kinship carers have to give up work when the child comes to live with them and many are in financial hardship as a result. The upfront payment of childcare costs in universal credit is a helpful change. As is the Government’s support for the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill 2022-23 which will give a ‘day one’ right for employees to request flexible working.
The House of Commons debated the spending of the Department for Education on childcare and early years. Family Rights Group provided the APPG with a briefing about the free childcare for 2-year-olds scheme and how children in kinship care are impacted.
Kinship Care Bill
The Kinship Care Bill from APPG Vice Chair, Munira Wilson MP, was on the House of Commons order paper for a second reading. It seeks to:
Define kinship care in law
Provide weekly allowances
Introduce paid employment leave
Provide educational support
Liverpool Kinship Carers Charter
The APPG congratulated Kinship Carers Liverpool on leading pioneering work on the creation of the first local kinship care charter in Liverpool, setting out how kinship carers in the city will be supported. Read more
There was a Westminster Hall debate on support for bereaved children. For children raised in kinship care, securing bereavement support and counselling can be difficult. Family Rights Group produced a briefing on policy in England.
The APPG published a statement responding to the announcement, welcoming the commitment to the first national kinship care strategy and calling on the Government to be bold, working cross-Government to deliver meaningful change for children and families. Read the response
In a House of Commons debate on the strategy, APPG Chair and a special guardian, Andrew Gwynne MP, asked the Secretary of the State for Education to address the postcode lottery in kinship care support – watch here.
In the House of Lords, APPG member Baroness Drake spoke on the need for the national kinship care strategy to be a cross-Government endeavour and to be adequately resourced. She highlighted the importance of free advice services, financial support and employment leave. The discussion demonstrated strong interest from across the chamber on improving support for kinship care with 37 mentions. Watch, Read
The House of Lords approved the statutory instrument extending legal aid provision to kinship carers applying for special guardianship orders in private law. APPG member, Baroness Drake, welcomed the change and raised the need for similar provision for families before and during care proceedings. Watch here.
APPG Chair, Andrew Gwynne MP, wrote to Minister, Claire Coutinho MP, about the urgent need for a cross-government focus on support for kinship care in response to the independent review of children’s social care. Read here.
On 8th December the House of Lords debated the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, led by Lord Watson of Invergowrie, a member of the APPG. The debate was well supported by peers from across the House and included calls for improved recognition and support for children to live in kinship care. A transcript of the debate can be read here and some key highlights can be watched here.
Legal Aid and Advice
On 14th November, Baroness Drake, a member of the APPG, had an oral question in the House of Lords on the APPG’s report on legal aid and advice. This was an opportunity to keep a focus on the challenges prospective kinship carers face accessing legal advice as highlighted by the APPG’s legal aid inquiry. Drake pressed the Government on the need to ensure legal aid provision is available to prospective special guardians in public as well as private law, including before care proceedings, as recommended by the APPG’s inquiry. Watch here.
She was joined by cross party colleagues in pressing the urgency and need for better practical, financial and legal support for kinship families. The written record of the debate can be read here and some key highlights can be watched here.
Meeting with the Children’s Commissioner
On 15th November, the Group held a session with the Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, to discuss the Independent Family Review and improving support for children in kinship care. It was a wide-ranging discussion including schools and educational support, family-focused public services and better data collection especially in relation to informal kinship care arrangements. Thank you also to Clare and Elaine from FRG’s kinship carers’ panel for sharing their experience and ideas. Read a summary of the session here.
Commons debate on the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care
On 24th November, a debate was held in the House of Commons on the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care. It was a constructive and detailed debate with a number of MPs from across the House speaking in favour of improved support for kinship care. The Minister announced that the Government would now be responding to the Review early in the new year. A written record of the debate can be read here and some key highlights can be watched here.
Kinship Care Week, 3rd to 7th October
Members of the Group were pleased to join events marking Kinship Care Week and thanking kinship carers for the amazing role they play in the lives of children.
The Group reaffirmed its cross party commitment to campaigning in Parliament for a better deal on kinship care for children and their carers. Every child should have the opportunity to live safely and thrive within their family.
Letter to the Prime Minister
MPs and Peers on the APPG sent a letter to Prime Minister Liz Truss, calling on her to put supporting kinship care at the centre of her Government’s action plan for implementing the independent review of children’s social care. Read here.
Draft legislation extending legal aid
Further to the parliamentary question response received by the Chair of the APPG before the summer, the Ministry of Justice laid a draft statutory instrument to extend the legal aid to some kinship carers. The measure will ensure special guardians who are applying to take on the care of children are eligible for means and merits tested legal aid in private law court proceedings. See analysis of the changes from Family Rights Group, the APPG’s secretariat, here.
Kinship Care Bill debate
Munira Wilson MP, a Vice Chair of the APPG and proponent of the Kinship Care Bill, led a Westminster Hall debate setting out more detail on how her Bill proposes to improve support for children and their kinship carers. APPG Chair and kinship carer, Andrew Gwynne MP, shared his experience. APPG Vice Chair, Ian Byrne MP, also spoke about the work of Kinship Carers Liverpool. Read the transcript here
Many parliamentarians have also supported an Early Day Motion, backing the Bill.
Kinship Parliamentary Reception
MPs and Peers attended a parliamentary reception, sponsored by Munira Wilson MP and hosted by the charity Kinship, launching the charity ‘Value Our Love’ campaign. Speakers included the Children’s Commissioner for England and Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Bridget Phillipson MP.
In response to a Written Parliamentary Question from Andrew Gwynne MP, the Ministry of Justice confirmedthat they will bring forward legislation in the Autumn to expand legalaid to cover special guardianship orders in private law. The APPG’s legal aid inquirymade a recommendation that this commitment be urgently implemented and so this is a welcome step forward to tackle the legal labyrinth that kinship carers face.
The group held it’s Annual General Meeting on 29th June 2022 in Parliament. This was the first time the group met in person since it’s formation in 2021 amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Parliamentarians heard from kinship carers, Clare Walsh and Enza Smith, who shared their experience and perspective on the proposals made by the Independent Review. Munira Wilson MP also spoke about her Kinship Care Bill to be debated in Parliament on 5th July 2022. The group elected its officers for the coming year (see more here). Read the minutes of the meeting here.
he APPG concluded its inquiry on legal aid and advice for kinship carers, publishing its findings and recommendations in a new report: ‘Lost in the legal labyrinth: How a lack of legal aid and advice is undermining kinship care’. The report shines a spotlight on, and sets out proposals for addressing, the challenges carers and prospective carers face in stepping forward and navigating the family justice system, in England and Wales, to support the children they are raising to thrive. Read more on the inquiry page here.
The independent review of children’s social care in England published its final report. The APPG welcomed the Review’s proposals to ‘unlock the power of kinship care’. Read the group’s full response here. The group’s chair, Andrew Gwynne MP, also questioned the Children’s Minister in Parliament – watch here.
APPG member, Alex Cunningham MP, wrote for Politics Home about why its time to deliver kinship care reform and support for families without further delay. Read more here.
The group held the second of its virtual oral evidence sessions as part of its inquiry into legal aid and advice for kinship carers and prospective kinship carers. Members heard evidence from legal organisations working across children’s law.
The APPG heard from:
Cris McCurley, on behalf of the Law Society
Samantha Little, on behalf of Resolution
Sarah Whitworth and Helen McGrath, on behalf of Lawyers in Local Government
This month the group held the first of two virtual oral evidence sessions as part of its inquiry into legal aid and advice for kinship carers and prospective kinship carers. Members heard evidence from kinship carers with lived experience of the family justice system and from an experienced family legal practitioner.
The APPG launched an inquiry into access to legal aid for kinship carers and potential kinship carers. It will explore how many grandparents, brothers, sisters and other relatives or friends are not currently able to access free, independent legal advice and representation when considering taking on the care of a child who cannot safely remain with their parents. The inquiry will look at the impact this has on families and the wider child welfare and family justice system.
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