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Local authorities “failing to comply” with statutory kinship guidance

A significant number of children’s social care providers are failing to comply with statutory kinship guidance, a major report has revealed.

The research, published by the Parliamentary Taskforce on Kinship Care, shows that “rushed social work assessments”, inconsistent advice and uncertain financial support may be leading to poorer outcomes for children.

A kinship carer is a relative or friend who raises children who cannot safely remain with their parents. According to the latest statistics, more than 180,000 children across the UK are living with kinship carers – more than children in the care system and children who have been adopted.

The research also shows that the vast number of children in kinship care benefit emotionally, behaviourally, and academically.

But, despite their importance to the integrity of the care system, the report found that kinship care is “widely unrecognised, underappreciated and often poorly supported”.

The paper – the first-ever parliamentary inquiry into kinship care and the first-time parliamentarians have taken extensive evidence from kinship carers and children who have been raised in kinship care – reveals that one in six English local authorities had no “family and friends care policy”, or were using a “very outdated one”.

It was also found that kinship carers often received inconsistent and unreliable advice and “faced disparities” in terms of their dealings with councils.

Meanwhile, one in two kinship carers have had to give up work or reduce their hours to take on extra caring responsibilities, but most receive little, if any, financial support.

Commenting on the findings, the report reads: “The quality and consistency of the policies themselves are extremely variable, and indicate a failure by a significant number of authorities to comply fully with statutory guidance.

“Few local authorities appear to have developed their policy in consultation with local kinship families, despite this being a specific expectation set out in the statutory guidance.”

To access the full report of the Parliamentary Taskforce on Kinship Care, please click here.

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