Kinship Care Alliance Agenda for Action on Family and Friends Care 2017
What we know about family and friends care:
Many more children who cannot live with their parents are brought up by relatives or family friends than are adopted or are in foster care. There are also some children in the care system for whom the option of being raised by members of their wider family or friendship network has been too readily dismissed or even overlooked altogether.
Research evidence tells us that:
- Children in family and friends care (also known as kinship care) have suffered similar adverse experiences in the past as those living with unrelated carers in the care system(i).
- Many family and friends carers end up suffering severe financial hardship as a result of raising a child in their family(ii). Nearly half have to leave their job or cut their hours(iii) when the child comes to live with them. A high proportion of family and friends carers have limiting physical conditions or disabilities and often their own relationships come under severe strain.
- The children and their family and friends carers often receive little or no support, with those getting the least support from local authorities being the ones who are bringing up the children with the highest levels of emotional and behavioural difficulties. The main determinant of access to support is the child's legal status, in particular whether the child is in or out the care system, rather than their needs(iv);
- Despite this, most children in family and friends care are thriving, and are doing significantly better than children in unrelated care(v) – in particular they feel more secure and have fewer emotional and behavioural problems and are also doing better academically.
Supporting children to live within their family network, is in the interest of the child, the family and society including saving the public purse (an independent fostering placement for a child in care costs at least £40,000 per annum)
What we want to see changed:
- Children who cannot live with their parents are able to grow up within their wider family wherever possible, taking account of children's wishes and feelings.
- Children living in family and friends care are not overlooked and get the support they desperately need.
- Family and friends carer households are not plunged into poverty when they take on a kinship care child and are assisted not penalised by the benefits and welfare system.
- Family and friends carers have access to free legal advice and information services to protect the children.
- Family and friends carers are enabled to stay in work and not forced to give up their jobs when taking on the care of the children.
For further information contact:
Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive, Family Rights Group
(i) Farmer, E and Moyers, S (2008) Kinship Care: Fostering Effective Family and Friends Placements (Jessica Kingsley Press)
(ii) Hunt J and Waterhouse S (2012) Understanding family and friends care: the relationship between need, support and legal status (University of Oxford & FRG
(iii) Ashley C (ed) Aziz R, Roth D and Lindley B (2012) Understanding family and friends care: the largest survey (Family Rights Group)
(iv) Hunt & Waterhouse 2013
(v) Selwyn et al (2013) The Poor Relations? Children & Informal Kinship Cares Speak Out (University of Bristol)