This is one of the largest surveys of kinship carers in the UK. Read the full report here.

Over 1,100 kinship carers took part in the survey, the results of which highlight the chaos and confusion that are often experienced by new kinship carers at the time they take on the responsibility for children. This is compounded by a lack of support and independent advice which means many kinship carers, under a great deal of pressure, risk being penalised for stepping in to keep their families together. As in previous years, it shows that many carers aren't getting the support they need for children to thrive.

Key findings include:

  • 75% of carers were asked to look after the children – of these 79% by a social worker, 18% by a parent, 6% by police
  • In 83% of cases, children’s services had been involved with the child’s family
  • 30% of the children were previously in foster or residential care 

Despite children’s services involvement, many kinship carers step in quickly in a climate of crisis and fear, with little time or access to independent information and advice, or support to consider their options. Only later do they realise that support is determined by the child’s legal order – it is usually discretionary and it can be means tested, time limited or cut for good.

  • 53% were given no notice and took on the children in a crisis situation
  • In 70% of cases, kinship carers understood that the children would be taken into care or adopted if they did not step in
  • 50% felt under pressure when making this decision
  • 84% said they hadn’t got the advice and information they needed when the child moved in
  • 95% said they hadn’t had any form of training to help prepare them for their kinship care role
  • 90% said they hadn’t been told by their local authority where to access peer support 

Family and friends become kinship carers for many reasons, the most commonly cited were substance misuse by birth parents, neglect, domestic violence, and mental health issues.

Read the full report, including our recommendations for policy and practice, here.