Over a third of kinship carers received no financial support from their local authority, according to a survey by the charity Kinship, previously Grandparents Plus.
The likelihood of receiving an allowance from the local authority varied according to the legal status of the child, but the survey found that 85% of kinship carers raising children on an informal arrangement did not receive a financial allowance.
“When kinship carers step up to raise children, they also take on the full financial responsibility of the children they care for. Taking on the role commonly restricts their ability to work. There is a lack of clarity and consistency about financial support and allowances for raising kinship children, with rules and policies varying from place to place,” said the report.
“A lack of transparency about what is available leads to uncertainty and confusion for kinship carers. This leads to people in similar situations receiving different levels of financial support based on where they live and the child’s legal status, rather on the needs of the children, which is unfair,” the report added.
Kinship care is where a person looks after the child of a relative or friend who is unable to for any reason.
Kinship care can be an informal arrangement between the parents and the kinship carer, or it can be a more formal arrangement where there is a court order such as a child arrangements order or special guardianship order in place which gives the carers parental responsibility for the child.
If children’s services were involved with the child moving in with the kinship carers, then it is likely the child would be considered ‘looked after’ by the local authority and the carers would be kinship foster carers until a more permanent plan is made for the child.
The survey of 1,948 kinship carers looking after 2,808 children found:
- 85% of kinship carers raising children on an informal arrangement did not receive a financial allowance.
- 67% of kinship carers raising children on a CAO/RO did not receive an allowance.
- 24% of kinship carers raising children on an SGO did not receive an allowance.
Furthermore, the survey revealed:
- 74% of kinship carers whose child was subject to an SGO felt that the allowance they received did not allow them to meet the needs of the child they cared for.
- 84% of kinship carers whose child was subject to a CAO/RO felt that the allowance they received did not allow them to meet the needs of the child they cared for.
- 92% of kinship carers on an informal arrangement felt that the allowance they received did not allow them to meet the needs of the child they cared for.
“On average, the weekly allowance per kinship child is £40 less than the lowest allowance per foster child,” said the report. “82% of kinship carers have worried about their financial situation over the past year,” said the report.
Furthermore, the survey found that over a quarter of kinship carers had their allowance reduced after it was reviewed.
“Raising children costs money. Too many kinship carers are left having to bear the financial burden of caring for another person’s child. The impact of the lack of financial support is that kinship carers, who have done the right thing in stepping up to care for children, are plunged into poverty,” said the report.
Kinship is calling for kinship carers to receive a fair allowance to cover the costs of raising the children in their care that is equal to the national minimum fostering allowance.