Trustee Bio Yvette became Ofsted’s National Director, Social Care in April 2018. Prior to taking up this post, Yvette was Director of Children’s Services in the London Borough of Merton, a position she held for over 9 years following a 20 year children’s services career in London.
It has been my great pleasure this year to join Grandparents Plus as a Trustee, although we have had the challenge of being a virtual board for most of my time in office so far! I have longstanding experience within my family and friends of kinship care, both long term and short term, and I have brought that experience to my work in social care and to my voluntary activities, such as with my role for Grandparents Plus.
I was pleased to read the survey and to see that 87% of kinship carers felt proud of their role, and I was disappointed, but not surprised, that 82% felt they lacked the professional support they needed to fulfil their caring responsibilities as well as they’d like to. The survey also shows us that there is still a lot of misunderstanding about kinship care. This shows we have a lot to do in ensuring the wider community, and even sometimes the important decision-makers, know what kinship care in all its varieties can mean, and how carers and their children can be better supported.
The challenges of COVID-19 have provided many of us with new and uncharted territory to navigate, and the survey showed 70% of carers felt that they had struggled and 24% were very worried about coping in a second lockdown. I know that financial hardship and squeezed accommodation as well as getting the right support for children with special educational needs were existing challenges pre COVID-19 – so I know the added pressure of furlough, school closures and restricted activities will have hit hard.
Two positives I have seen shining through from the many families I have come across have been hope and kindness. Giving a warm welcome and care within the extended family can be life-changing for our children. Our collective challenge is to make sure that as a society we extend both hope and kindness to the kinship care community as well as the necessary practical support and advice the survey shows they very clearly need.
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