• New poll[1] shows that 93% of parents would want a grandparent, other family member or friend to step in if they couldn’t take care of their children – most often a grandparent (42%) or an aunt or uncle (18%).
  • Over 80% think relatives who step in should be given the same support as adoptive parents and foster carers.
  • Only 1 in 5 British parents have appointed a guardian in their will.
  • Of those who’ve appointed a guardian, less than half have discussed where the children would live or how they’ll cope financially.
  • It’s estimated that there are around 200,000 children living with relatives or friends – in what’s known as kinship care – because of the death, illness or incapacitation of their parents.

                                            

A new poll shows that British parents say more support should be given to relatives who take on care of children – after 93% say they’d want a relative or friend to care for their children if they couldn’t.

The poll, from the charity Grandparents Plus and supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, shows that 87% of parents say relatives should receive similar support to adoptive parents, while 82% think they should receive a regular financial allowance.

Dr Lucy Peake, Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus, the national charity supporting relatives raising children as kinship carers, said: “We’re really grateful to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for making this possible, because this poll shows us two really important things – firstly that parents overwhelmingly would want a relative or friend to step in to care for their children if they couldn’t, and that the vast majority think there should be more support for people when they do.

“We don’t often want to think about the worst case scenario, but we do want to believe that there’s a safety net in place for our children and those we’d ask to take them on.  As parents, we can make sure we’ve done what we can to plan for every eventuality, but in reality we want to know that there will be help out there if our families need it. Few people realise just how hard it can be for relatives who step in to get the support they need – and this needs to change.  We want all relatives who step in to care for children to be entitled to the financial, practical and emotional support they need, and it’s shocking we don’t do more for them now.”

Joanne Beverley took on care of her two nieces after her sister, Natalie, was killed by her partner. Despite taking on the children in the most tragic circumstances, she says it was a real struggle to get the right support.  She said: “Families like ours are not only trying to adjust to caring for relatives’ children but also the trauma of losing a loved one and we need to be supporting these families far better. Sadly, I have met many families left virtually destitute because they have stepped in and done the right thing but did not understand the system or have been given poor legal advice. This is simply not good enough.”

Research shows that there are around 200,000 children growing up in the care of relatives or friends in the UK. 

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Grandparents Plus plays an important role in championing those taking on the caring role of children, often amidst complex family circumstances. This survey, supported by players, has revealed some really important findings, which will help the charity to campaign for better support for kinship carers.”

[1] Poll of 904 British parents conducted on behalf of Grandparents Plus, August 15th-17th 2018.