Time To Define Kinship Care
4 minute read
Time to Define is a major campaign from Family Rights Group to recognise, value and support kinship care for children who cannot remain at home. It starts with a single definition of kinship care written into legislation.
What is kinship care?
Thousands of family and friends step in every year to raise children who are unable to live with their parents. Such situations often arise out of tragedy or trauma. Often the children would otherwise live with strangers in the care system.
Kinship care is often overlooked and undervalued
Currently, there is no single definition of kinship care in primary legislation. As a result, kinship carers can face many challenges including not being recognised in their parenting role by hospital services, schools, or employers.
It also means kinship care is interpreted in different ways by government, state agencies, services, and the public including kinship carers themselves. Families then face a postcode lottery in the support available to them locally. For many, there is little or no support for the child or themselves, particularly those with informal arrangements.
We know this is preventing children from receiving the support they need to live safely and thrive in their families
We are calling on the Government to define kinship care clearly in law
A single definition of kinship care must be broad enough to ensure that no kinship carer is left out. It would cover all the different types of kinship care arrangement. It should be applied across national government and all parts of public life at a local level. From school admissions forms to DWP benefits assessments. From the NHS to local authority services.
This would provide the foundation for an effective kinship care support system
Meeting the definition could automatically passport kinship carers and their children to a minimum level of support and services. All kinship children, regardless of the type of arrangement they have, should be able to access crucial support to live safely and thrive in their family.
That support should include access to free legal aid and advice, paid employment leave akin to adoption leave, improved financial support, practical help including peer support, and educational and therapeutic support for kinship children.
Our progress so far
In May 2022, the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care adopted our proposal for a new legal definition of kinship care, as part of a “fundamental shift in children’s social care”.
Fast forward to February 2023, the Government published their plans for children’s social care reform, Stable Homes, Built on Love. They include a working definition of kinship care to be consulted on.
We encourage supporters of our Time To Define campaign to respond to the Government’s consultation on the definition. See our briefing here.
How you can help support the Time to Define Kinship Care campaign:
- Share the proposal on social media using the hashtag #TimeToDefine and tag us in @familyrightsgp
- Endorse the campaign either individually or as an organisation by completing the form below
- Write to your Member of Parliament or your local lead councillor for children’s services, and ask them to support the campaign
- Consider how your local authority or organisation can implement any of the recommendations in our proposal