It’s election time: Kinship Care Matters
By Lucy Peake,CEO, Grandparents Plus
Elections have a way of dividing people – red or blue, in or out – but with every election there’s also the chance to come together and speak out about what matters to us. That’s why throughout this election period, Grandparents Plus is working with the Kinship Care Alliance, to put kinship care on the agenda, and fight for a fair deal for children and kinship carers across the country.
Through our advice service and Relative Experience programme, we speak to kinship carers every day. The stories we hear are depressingly similar – too many kinship carers are struggling financially and are unable to get the support they need to give children the safe and stable homes they deserve. Our 2017 survey shows that 52% of the children in kinship care have experienced parental abuse or neglect, and over half have special needs. Yet getting the help they need to thrive is all too often dependent on untangling red tape and challenging a system that doesn’t fully recognise them. When you consider the fact that there are 200,000 children in kinship care – over twice as many as in local authority care, it’s pretty clear: too many children are falling through the net, carers are fighting tooth and nail to make ends meet, and it has to stop.
Earlier this week Janice, a grandmother who’s taken on care of her two grandsons, came to visit us in the office. Two years ago, she was at breaking point, having fought to keep the children out of care while her daughter battled complex issues. She describes how she had no one to turn to, struggled to cope and lived in constant fear of losing the boys forever. Janice called our advice service, and thankfully found the lifeline she needed to get back on her feet. Her grandsons are thriving, and Janice is now running kinship coffee mornings to help reach and support other carers in her area. Hearing her passion when she says that no one should go through what she did is a reminder both of the thousands of other families like hers who are struggling alone, and how better recognition of kinship care would change everything.
Together, we can put an end to the isolation and fear, and let these children know that they matter. Get involved and push for change with your local parliamentary candidate using the link here.