WHO ARE KINSHIP CARERS?
Kinship carers are people raising relatives or friends’ children who would otherwise need to enter the care system. Since Special Guardianship Orders were introduced in 2005, Local Authorities have increasingly chosen to place children with friends and family as an alternative to adoption and long term fostering. Kinship care has now become the main route out of care for children in England, overtaking adoption. There are approximately 200,000 kinship families in the UK, though the actual number is likely to be much higher.
Despite the growing number of officially recognized kinship families, this has not gone hand in hand with increased levels of support. Kinship carers are expected to parent traumatized children with little or no preparation or support, and often have no access to the services that are normally available to foster carers and adopters. Recent data indicates that Covid-19 has disproportionately affected kinship carers; most have been unable to shield, even when vulnerable, and they have not been prioritized in vaccination and other support programs.