Kinship Carers (Parental Responsibility Agreements) Bill
The Bill would enable parents to give their consent for a close family member to obtain parental responsibility through a parental responsibility agreement, just as step parents can. Currently carers can only get parental responsibility by securing a residence order or special guardianship order in the courts. It would be helpful where there is a consensual arrangement between the parent(s) and family carer that the child should be living with the carer and where the situation is temporary, or where going to court would be too costly and could upset the dynamics between the parents and family carer. By getting parental responsibility it would give the family carer the authority to agree, for example, to the child going on school trips and getting medical and dental treatment and give them more ammunition to be consulted/recognised in their dealings with professionals and agencies, including accessing child benefit and tax credits.
Angie has been looking after her granddaughter for the last 3 years, since the child was just one year old. Her granddaughter's father is in prison and her mother, Angie's daughter, has just come through a home detox from heroin and is now completely clean. Prior to Angie's full time involvement with her granddaughter, she looked after her most weekends and some week nights. She says "I have strong views on parents and children remaining as a family unit and if my daughter had lost control of her daughter this would have had the reverse effect on her drug recovery and the bond between mum and daughter would simply have vanished. The consequence of this would be long term for the child. I am delighted that my daughter has had regular supervised contact with her own daughter, it has meant a lot and I am sure is why she was eventually able to detox from all drug use and see her own daughter as needing a real mum”. Angie says "I think this Bill would have helped me enormously. I have considered a special guardianship order but the court process would be too much for my daughter who sees this as 'taking her daughter right under her'. People in drug abuse situations do not have the foresight to see things clearly and this Act would have been enormous help to us if it had been in force 3 years ago.”
The Bill is supported by:
Action for Prisoners Families; Family Rights Group; The Fostering Network; The Grandparents’ Association; Grandparents Plus; Mentor UK; National Children’s Bureau; The Who Cares? Trust; PACT; and TACT.
Supporting MPs include:
Alan Johnson – who was himself brought up by his older sister when his mother died - David Blunkett, Kate Green, Helen Grant, Andrew Gwynne, Sharon Hodgson, David Lammy, Lisa Nandy, Jamie Reed, Paul Goggins, Priti Patel and Nick Smith.