Welcome to our resources page. Here you will find the latest research, reports and statistics. If you are a practitioner, researcher or academic who is interested in kinship care, sign up to our professionals network to hear about the latest research and best practice, and to hear about our events.
If you are a kinship carer, join our community to receive our latest updates, find out about events and get involved.
You can purchase copies of our Kinship Care Guide England.
Kinship care experiences during COVID-19
Our first COVID-19 consultation was carried out on 18 March as the lockdown was first being rolled out. At this time many carers with additional health concerns were already self-isolating but schools were still open. There was considerable anxiety around what would happen to the carer if they contracted COVID-19 and who would look after the children. We continued to consult with out kinship carer families throughout the pandemic. Please see the results below:
The impact of COVID-19 on kinship families March 2020
The impact of COVID-19 on kinship families May 2020
The impact of COVID-19 on kinship families June 2020
The impact of COVID-19 on kinship families July 2020
Kinship Care experiences
State of the nation
Our Kinship care state of the nation surveys collate annual research from Grandparents Plus to understand the experiences of kinship carers, including kinship foster carers, and kinship carers for children with special guardianship orders, child arrangement orders and informal kinship carers.
Growing up in Kinship Care: Experiences as Adolescents and Outcomes in Young Adulthood
Whilst there is considerable literature on the difficulties faced by young people leaving local authority care, much less is known about how children who have been brought up in kinship care get on as they reach their late teens and early adulthood. Do they do better or worse than care leavers and how do they compare with young people in the general population? This study is the first of its kind to look at these questions. Led by Professor Elaine Farmer, this the first study on the outcomes in early adulthood of children brought up in kinship care.
Kinship Connected Evaluation 2020
In August 2020 Kinship Connected was externally evaluated by Starks Consulting Ltd and Ecorys. The evaluation found that Kinship Connected had a very positive impact on kinship families, helping to reduce isolation and concerns regarding children, an increased sense of connectedness with others, and greater resilience and pride in the caring role.
The evaluation concluded that the support offered by project workers through the Kinship Connected programme and associated peer support groups was seen as being ‘vital’ by kinship carers who had previously felt neglected and isolated.
The economic case for kinship care
A report by Nicol Economics for Grandparents Plus
Grandparents Plus believes that increased support and investment in kinship care now will lead to better outcomes for children, the wider society, and the economy in the future. Our externally commissioned research (Kinship Care: The Opportunity) suggests that by investing in support for kinship carers it is possible to reduce the numbers of children growing up in local authority care.
The report shows that in addition to the financial benefits of this, there would be other long-term benefits in terms of reduced homelessness, levels of crime and anti-social behaviour, and better health.
Kinship Response six month report: The impact on kinship carers
The COVID-19 global pandemic is having a significant impact on already vulnerable kinship families, placing additional stress on their already difficult situations. Prior to the pandemic, lack of support meant many kinship carers were just about coping, and the lockdown amplified the challenges they already faced. Currently, continued uncertainty means that some families feel more vulnerable than ever.
Ombudsman challenges councils to ensure appropriate support provided for special guardians
The advice comes following publication of the Ombudsman’s report, ‘Firm Foundations’ which highlights the variety of problems faced by special guardians in seven out of 10 complaints it upholds about councils on this subject. There is a link to the ‘Firm Foundations’ report in this story.
There an estimated 200,000 children growing up in kinship care in the UK. This number is based on a Bristol University analysis of 2011 census data, which showed 180,000 children living with a relative, and includes an assumption about the numbers living with non-relatives such as godparents and family friends. Children in kinship care are relatively invisible as a group because the government does not keep up to date data about them. They can have a variety of legal orders, and some may be in informal arrangements, which makes a comprehensive analysis of trends difficult.
However, through analysing the data for different legal orders we know that the number of children with care orders (ie in family and friends foster care) and special guardianship orders has been rising.
This paper by Dinithi Wijedasa from the Hadley Centre for Adoption & Foster Care Studies and the University of Bristol looks at the characteristics of children in kinship care, and includes a breakdown of the numbers of children in kinship care by region in Appendix A.
Fostering in England statistics for the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. These statistics show an increasing number of family and friends foster carers who are
- 16% of all fostering households
- 24% of LA fostering households
- 58% newly approved LA fostering households
Statistics on children under local authority care at national and local authority level. These statistics show that more children left care on a Special Guardianship Order than an Adoption Order
- 3,830 SGO (up 11%) – 90% to live with kinship carers
- 3,570 adoption order (down 7%)
Research and evidence
Evidence review of special guardianship which calls for reform of special guardianship to protect and support children and their carers. It was commissioned by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory in response to the Court of Appeal’s call for authoritative, evidence-based guidance for the use of SGOs. The review was led by Dr John Simmonds from CoramBAAF and Professor Judith Harwin from Lancaster University. This project was prompted by the judgment of Re P-S handed down by the Court of Appeal in 2018.
A presentation by Mike King from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
A presentation by Judith Harwin, Professor in Socio-Legal Studies and Co-director at the Centre for Child & Family Justice Research into special guardians views of assessment and court processes
A brief overview of research by Paul McGrath from the School of Social Work at the University of East Anglia.
A presentation by Sally Kelly, Head of Virtual School for Looked After Children and Care leavers, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, that looks at how virtual school heads can support children in kinship care with their education.
Information by Vas Patel from the Department for Education about the adoption support fund and how it can support special guardians.
A presentation by Paul Shuttleworth, a researcher at Sussex University.
If you are a practitioner, researcher or academic who is interested in kinship care, sign up to our professionals network to hear about the latest research and best practice, and to hear about our events.