Kinship Care Alliance Agenda for Action on Family and Friends Care 2015
When children are unable to live safely with their parents, then their family and friends should be the first port of call to provide them with love, care and security. These family and friends carers should be recognised and valued. Both the carers and the children should have their voices heard and needs met so that the children can flourish.
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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 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 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.
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 have their needs met.
- 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.
- Family and friends carers are not plunged into poverty nor penalised by the benefits system.
For further information contact:
Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive, Family Rights Group
020 7923 2628/ 07931570149 email@example.com
(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)