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Research launched into experiences of kinship carers from ethnic minorities

The charity Kinship is to lead major new research on the experiences of kinship families from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, it has been announced during Kinship Care Week.

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During the week Monday 3rd to Friday 7th October there has been celebration for the amazing role that kinship carers across England and Wales play in children’s lives and our society.

“It’s been a momentous year for kinship care, with unprecedented attention from decision-makers, as the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care made investing in kinship care and better supporting kinship families a key focus of its recommendations,” said a statement from the charity.

“But many kinship families still feel unrecognised, undervalued, and unsupported, so raising awareness of their important role and challenges they face is crucial to building understanding and getting them the support, they so desperately need,” added Kinship.

The independent review of children’s social care published earlier this year said that special guardians and kinship carers with a Child Arrangement Order should receive a new statutory financial allowance, legal aid and statutory kinship leave. A wider set of informal kinship carers should get a comprehensive support package.

WillisPalmer’s Head of Practice Lucy Hopkins said: “Caring for related children is underestimated and is so different to fostering unrelated children. I continue to be surprised at the lack of support for people caring for relative children.”

“One of the biggest challenges continues to be managing the relationship with birth parents, that being the relationship the carer has with them but also the relationship the child has with them, particularly in instances where the child has been neglected or abused in that parent’s care.”

“It is all the more reason why carers, whether they are caring for children under SGOs or as Kinship Carers, require additional support to manage contact issues and helping to establish a narrative that the family can share when talking to the child about their life and how they came to live with their relatives,” added Lucy.

The Kinship research project, supported by the KPMG Foundation, aims to deepen understanding about the experiences of kinship families from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, to catalyse positive changes in its services and across the sector.

There is evidence that kinship care is more prevalent in Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.  Children from these backgrounds are more likely to be in informal kinship care, where entitlements to support are at the most limited. However, Kinship says that there is a major research gap in contemporary research on the prevalence or experience of kinship carers in Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

Kinship will bring together research from academic partners with the lived experience of kinship carers over two years to better understand the prevalence and reasons why children are in kinship care in these communities, as well as the challenges they face.

Lucy Peake, CEO at Kinship said: “As the largest provider of kinship care support services in England and Wales, Kinship’s work is informed by evidence. However, the dearth of research and understanding about kinship care families from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities means that we, and others, have gaps in our knowledge when developing services to meet the needs of these families. This is leaving thousands of vulnerable kinship families without support that is tailored to their specific needs or experiences.”

Judith McNeill, CEO, KPMG Foundation said: “As the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England highlighted, there is a real urgency in addressing the lack of research into the experience of Black, Asian and minority ethnic kinship families, as the focus on improving support for kinship care grows.”

Kinship will be seeking expressions of interest from academic partners shortly and research is expected to start early 2023.

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