Kinship carers will receive more support to help their children secure school places, under changes made to the Schools Admission Code.
The Department for Education consulted on changes to the Schools Admission Code and respondents highlighted concerns for children who are in formal kinship care arrangements. The recent cross-government Parliamentary Taskforce on Kinship Care analysis revealed that there are more than 180,000 children across the UK who are being raised by a relative, because they are unable to live with their birth parents.
“Whilst some of these children will have been looked after in the care system at some point, a large number will be cared for by a kinship carer. Whilst this will have many advantages for the child’s wellbeing, it is also recognised that the support afforded to parents and carers of a child who has been previously looked after is not always available to this group of carers,” said the DfE in its consultation response.
As a result, the DfE will include the children of kinship carers under the Fair Access Protocol.
“We recognise the important role that family and friends play in caring for children who are unable to live with their parents. With this in mind, we have decided to include those children in formal kinship care arrangements (as evidenced by either a child arrangement order not relating to either birth parent or a special guardianship order) as a category within the FAP,” said the consultation response.
“This ensures carers can access support in securing an in-year school place for their child where they are unable to do so via the normal in-year process,” the response added.
The DfE consulted on introducing a dedicated section in the Schools Admission Code which sets out a clear process for managing in-year admissions, changes to improve the effectiveness of Fair Access Protocols, amending references to previously looked after children in the Code and providing clarification on which address to use for admission of service or crown servant children.
The Department for Education’s revised School Admissions Code, which will apply from September 2021.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Kinship Care welcomes the move which will now support more children in kinship care to access a school place during the school year.
Under the revised Fair Access Protocol, children being raised by kinship carers under a legal order, who struggle to get a school place during the year, will be supported to secure one.
The cross-party Parliamentary Taskforce on Kinship Care highlighted concerns that some children being raised by relatives or friends, particularly those children who are not and have not been in the care system, are missing out on vital support to secure an appropriate school place.
“There are more than 180,000 children across the UK raised in kinship care – by relatives, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers or sisters or family friends who step in to raise children who cannot safely live with their parents,” said a statement from the APPG on Kinship Care.
The new provision applies to children raised by a kinship carer under a child arrangements order or a special guardianship order. It also applies to children in the care system.
“This change to the School Admissions Code now recognises that children raised in kinship care may need extra support to secure a school place," said Andrew Gwynne MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kinship Care, welcoming the change.
“When a child comes to live with a kinship carer, when they can no longer remain at home, it is often in an emergency situation and it can be a struggle to arrange an appropriate school place that best meets their needs. The carer may also need to manage this alongside the needs of their own children. This important change should help make the practicalities of day-to-day life for kinship carers easier.
“However, we continue to encourage the government to go further to ensure support is not limited by legal order and that children in kinship care are eligible for the same rights to priority school admissions as looked after and previously looked after children,” he concluded.