Kinship carers feel invisible in debate about looked-after children | Letters

We get minimal support, writes Janet Kay, while Lucy Peake says that if kinship carers can’t continue, that risks a lot of children entering the care system

Why is it that none of the recent articles about the potential crisis in numbers of children in care mention the many children who have narrowly avoided the care system because they have been diverted from one “broken system” to another (Looked-after children are falling through the cracks of a broken system, 24 January)? There are very many children in kinship care who would be boosting those alarming statistics if relatives and friends had not taken on their care.

And yet kinship carers get no preparation or training, the assessment is brief and shallow in comparison to adoption assessments, and we are usually very unprepared for our role. We get minimal support (and sometimes none) throughout the often hasty placement process, and post-placement support is like hens’ teeth.

Some go on to deal with often traumatised children, with a range of issues while also managing the emotional stress of contact with birth parents. Many of us struggle financially, emotionally and practically. We do this for love – not because we want more children or because it’s a paid role. By not mentioning us in this discussion the media is emphasising our invisibility, isolation and lack of resources. Write about us for a change.
Janet Kay
Sheffield

• Your editorial on looked-after children rightly emphasises the need for a broad approach to reviewing the care system. But what’s missing is any mention of the 200,000 children in kinship care who are raised by family members and friends who frequently step in to keep them out of the care system.

The care review is a unique opportunity to do things differently and to support all children who can’t be cared for by their parents. That means recognising and supporting kinship care as part of the solution.

And there’s a risk if we don’t. In our survey of over 1,000 kinship carers, a third said the strain and lack of financial and practical support available to them means they are worried about their ability to continue. If they can’t, then that’s a lot of children at risk of entering the care system.
Lucy Peake
Chief executive, Grandparents Plus

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