Treat kinship carers like foster carers, says survey

Guest post from family lawyers based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Almost three-quarters of adults agree that kinship carers – grandparents and other family members who are bringing up a child because their parents cannot look after them – should receive similar support to foster carers, says a new nationwide poll.

Boost for kinship carers

The YouGov survey has been welcomed by charities Grandparents Plus, the Family and Parenting Institute and Family Lives, as a massive boost for the estimated 200,000 kinship carers in the UK.

It reveals that:

  • 76% of those surveyed agree or strongly agree that kinship carers should receive practical help from the local authority;
  • 67% agree or strongly agree that kinship carers should receive a financial allowance;
  • 78% agree or strongly agree that kinship carers should receive a financial allowance if they are on a low income; and
  • 60% agree or agree strongly that kinship carers should be entitled to a period of paid leave from work.

Wider family networks

The charities commissioned the poll in the wake of new welfare reform proposals, which they fear could impact on families who have taken on additional caring responsibilities.

“The poll findings demonstrate clear public support for a diversity of family forms in the UK and the importance of drawing on wider family networks in times of strain. Even in austere times, there is public support for valuing the enormous contribution that kinship carers make in bringing up vulnerable children,” said Katherine Rake, chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute.

Flexible working

The positive poll ratings have been followed by more good news for kinship carers, in the form of the announcement earlier this month that the Government will extend the right to request flexible working to all.

A report by Grandparents Plus last year found that 47% of kinship carers give up work when they take on the care of a child. Forty-one percent are then dependent on welfare benefits, while 60,000 have dropped out of the labour market entirely.

Flexible leave entitlements

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus, welcomed the move.

“This is something that we have been calling for for some time,” she said. “Grandparents who are trying to juggle work and caring for their grandchildren are one of the key groups who will benefit.  One in four working mums rely on them for childcare.”

“The next step is to make it possible for parents to transfer unused periods of parental leave to grandparents, if that’s what families want to do,” she argued. “And to create leave entitlements for those grandparents and other family members who step into the parenting role, keeping children out of care.”

Contact Family Law Solicitors

For specialist advice, contact FLE, family lawyers based in Edinburgh, Scotland.