Family and friends carers (also known as kinship carers)

It is estimated that 200-300,000 children in the United Kingdom who cannot live with their parents are being brought up by grandparents, older siblings or other wider family members or friends. This may be because of parental mental or physical ill health, domestic abuse, divorce or separation, alcohol or substance misuse, imprisonment or bereavement.

Key facts

• Children raised by family and friends carers feel loved and secure and report high levels of satisfaction;

• Family and friends placements offer more stability than unrelated care;

• Family and friends carers show a high level of commitment;

• The children have experienced similar adversities to those in the care system but they and their carers received much less support;

• Many family and friends carers live in impoverished circumstances, which impacts on the children,

for example:

- 3 out 4 of such carers experience severe financial hardship;

- 35% of such carers left or lost their job or took early retirement to raise the children.

“I lost my job as a direct result of having time off to attend court, care for the baby and attend his hospital appointments etc. My husband took redundancy and we had to sell our home and most of the furniture in order to pay the legal costs and fund a move of over 350 miles away to ensure the safety of our grandson...”

• Many such carers face crippling legal costs to secure the child’s future;

• 1 in 4 are lone carers;

• 1 in 3 live in overcrowded conditions;

• 3 out of 10 family and friends care have a chronic illness or disability;

• 69% of English and Welsh local authorities did not have a consistent approach to family and friends care in 2009;

• 8 out 10 people agree that family and friends carers should receive financial support.

Famous people raised by family and friends carers

To name but a few …President Barack Obama, Morgan Freeman, Naomi Campbell. Who else?

This section of our website will be of interest if:

• You are a family and friends carer (also sometimes known as a kinship carer) raising a child who is unable to live with their parents; or

• You are a relative or friend who is thinking of raising a child, such as your grandchild , but the child is not living with you yet, or

• You are a policy maker, for example a politician or senior Children’s Services manager or you work with family and friends carers, for example you may be a social worker, childcare worker, lawyer, health visitor or teacher.

There is a separate section of the website on Help and Advice, where, if you are a family and friends carer, or you are thinking of becoming one, you can find out about the advice and support we can give you.

• You can find up-to-date news about family and friends care in the news and developments section. This provides information on our latest family and friends care briefings, publications, events and campaigns. You can also subscribe for free to our regularly e-newsletter on family and friends care.

• We carry out and publish research into the needs and circumstances of children in family and friends care, and their carers. Read about our latest research findings on family and friends care including recommendations and tips for practitioners and policy makers about good practice at local and national level.

• It is often older siblings who are raising their young brothers and sisters, yet until now they’ve had no recognition and little if any support despite the many challenges they face. Our sibling carers webpage includes findings from the first study into sibling care and other resources for sibling carers and those working with them.

• We are leading members of The Kinship Care Alliance. This is a group of organisations that campaign together to promote family and friends care. We believe that more children should be raised with family and friends instead of going into care, but the family and friends carers should be properly supported. Find out more about the Kinship Care Alliance’s policy and campaign agenda.

• From 30th September 2011, every council is supposed to have a local Kinship Care Policy that is placed on their website, and a named manager who is responsible for making sure the policy is implemented. We have sent a questionnaire about this to all the councils in England, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We have asked them to send us their policy, tell us where it is on their website, and tell us who the named manager for kinship care is. You can find your local council’s policy and named manager for kinship care on this webpage, if they have them and they have told us.

We have been piloting a new way for social workers to do assessments of family and friends carers. It is designed to help social workers and carers to work together on the assessment. You can find out more by reading this webpage, and social workers can find out how to sign up their local authority to take part in the pilot scheme.

• We run training courses for social workers and other practitioners who work with family and friends carers, as well as conferences and events for carers, children and young people, policy makers and practitioners. We can also provide consultancy for local authorities on matters such as producing a family and friends care policy, setting up support groups and establishing a family group conference service.

In this section you can also find out here about our campaigns for family and friends carers, and how you could get involved.