Why is this needed?
Support services to special guardians (SGs) and kinship carers are often embryonic in their development, although demand for them is clearly growing. All services will therefore need to plan for likely growth and development.
SG and young people’s perspective
“Young people made a range of suggestions about how young people in kinship care could be better supported. They wanted more awareness of their unique position; services attuned to their needs; the opportunity to meet with their peers; greater continuity of social workers who communicated honestly with them and better support for the transition into independent living. The carers emphasised the need for equality of treatment with young people in local authority non-kinship care. While financial support was undoubtedly very important, carers also identified the need for emotional support; information and advice about available services; help in managing and coping with children’s difficult behaviour and assistance with parental contact. Carers also wanted support for young people’s education and their transition to independence.” (Grandparents Plus 2017a p13)
“The young people in the study said that they wanted:
- People to be more aware of their need for support, linked to their experience of not living with birth parents and the wide range of challenges they faced.
- Better support for the transition into independent living and services attuned to their needs.
- To be able to talk, to be heard and to be understood.”
The Grandparents Plus publication Growing up in kinship care and the Family Rights Group publication, The highs and lows of kinship care both conclude with a large number of recommendations to improve support services, many of which are reflected in this document.
Examples of approaches currently being taken
North London Adoption and Fostering Consortium Priorities will be drawn from:
- Launch booklet for families about educational support
- Support children and young people more directly – for instance by commissioning peer therapeutic support from Body and Soul (a local voluntary organisation)
- Publish a booklet which captures young people’s views/wishes prior and post placement
- Ensure social workers are trained on making ASF applications
- Launch contact template/guidance
- Training on engagement and assisting prospective SGs make an informed decision as part of the assessment process (in light of increased timescales) and with evidencing how prospective carers will meet the child’s identified needs
- Monthly information sessions co-facilitated with an SG in all boroughs
- Guidance on obtaining passports
- Steering group with SGs to facilitate best practice with promoting and marketing support services
- Develop process for managing overseas assessments.
ASPIRE – priorities include:
- Implementing new duty system
- Delivering regular PACE (DDP) workshops and training events on a monthly basis at different venues
Brighton and Hove
- Developing a specific Family and Friends website
- Embedding the Assessment of Support Needs and Review of Special Guardianship Order (SGO) Support Plan Pathway. This will include integrating SGO support planning into the Children in Need pathway planning
- Explore group applications to ASF for co-facilitated Therapeutic Parenting Group and NVR Group, with practitioners from the team
- Develop a peer mentoring program for Family and Friends Carers
- Develop a more robust way of seeking feedback and consulting with Family and Friends Carers around service development and delivery
- Develop a pathway for SGs to access universal parenting support which reflects the trauma and attachment needs of children in their care.
- Two new FSW’s have been recruited as they are seen as more acceptable to families than social workers
- Working on a group bid to the ASF to access the ‘Nurtured Heart’ therapeutic intervention for carers
- Design and implement an SGO preparation workshop for all prospective SGs
- Working with carers to develop a constituted group which will give them their own voice and ability to develop peer support.
- Provide therapeutic parenting workshops for groups of parents
- Work more closely with our children’s centres
- Develop the Information pack that is provided to carers preorder/ preapproval
- Develop leaflet for children and young people to understand SG and Connected persons care
- Develop a Mediation contact service
- Celebrating Permanency – we are looking at events to celebrate permanency through SGO, connected person and long-term fostering
- We will be putting together a leaflet for birth parents so that they can understand better what it means having their child in an SGO placement
- We are considering a birth parent group
- We are looking into formalising contact arrangements in the form of a contract at the point of assessment
- Review our support plans to consider the medium and long-term needs of child and the support that the carer may need
- We continue to invest in specialist training for the team.
- Extending the ‘Under One Roof’ Workshop to two days
- Staff development around trauma
- Asperger’s/ADHD/trauma workshop
- Video parenting to enable reflective discussions
- Play therapist to support those children who do not qualify for ASF
- Strengthening SGO assessments.
Whilst the above initiatives are all positive and desirable there is a sense that support to SGs and kinship carers lacks a wider national initiative with the scale and ambition which has transformed support services to adopters in recent years.