The press release issued by the Department for Education on 15 December 2023.
Backed by £20 million, strategy shines spotlight on the incredible extended family members keeping children out of care.
Thousands of kinship carers are set to be better supported as the government today (15 December) launches the first ever national kinship care strategy, ‘Championing Kinship Care’.
The strategy shines a spotlight on the incredible kinship carers – grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and wider family networks – that provide loving homes to children who cannot live with their parents, and who will now receive greater financial stability and support from local authorities and schools.
Backed by £20 million to deliver the strategy, the government has confirmed it will provide an allowance to many kinship carers to match that received by foster carers – currently between £154 and £270 per week, per child. This is being trialled in up to 8 areas of the country and will help ensure that people do not have to choose between becoming a carer and being able to afford to support their families.
It will also expand the role of virtual school heads – education champions within local authorities – to cover kinship care. They will ensure that the education of children in kinship care is prioritised so they go on to have bright futures.
Foster care has also been bolstered today with an additional £8.5 million. This takes the total government investment across this parliament to £36 million, which is the largest ever investment in fostering in England. The funding will ensure there are more foster carers available to step up and look after children by extending recruitment campaigns, simplifying recruitment processes, and providing better support for existing foster carers to even more local authorities.
The new kinship strategy and extra foster care funding are part of a suite of initiatives launched today, which meet commitments set out in the ambitious children’s social care strategy, ‘Stable Homes, Built on Love’, published earlier this year.
Children and Families Minister, David Johnston, said:
Kinship carers do incredible work to support and nurture children who might otherwise go into care and I am very proud that the Government has published the first ever strategy for kinship care today.
I have met kinship carers from so many different backgrounds and with different experiences, but in telling their stories they always stress that they were never expecting to look after a child but they did so out of love.
Kinship carers are often hidden in plain sight and today’s strategy paves the way for them to be given the practical and financial support they deserve for the pivotal role they play in children’s lives.
We are committed to reforming the whole children’s social care system to support families – right from the point they face challenges and need support, all the way to transforming the experience children have when in care.
Minister for Social Mobility, Youth and Progression Mims Davies MP, said:
No one should suffer because of their start in life, and the amazing people who open up their homes and their hearts to vulnerable children deserve all the support they need to ensure no child gets left behind.
I’m thrilled this new strategy will give Kinship Carers the recognition and financial support they need, while ensuring as many children as possible can get on and get ahead in life and be able to take the opportunities to have a future they deserve.
Dr Lucy Peake, CEO of leading kinship care charity, Kinship, said:
The publication of the first ever National Kinship Care Strategy is significant recognition of the monumental role kinship carers play in transforming the experiences of hundreds of thousands of children, which has been overlooked and undervalued for too long.
We celebrate that there will now be more support for kinship families than ever before. This is testament to all the kinship carers who have demonstrated, for decades, the value of raising children within their family network. At Kinship, we are proud to have campaigned alongside so many of them as they have battled for long overdue change.
More than 130,000 children live in kinship care arrangements in England and kinship carers make up over a fifth of all foster carers. There are also a range of other formal and informal routes for extended family members to provide additional support to children in kinship care arrangements, including special guardianship.
The strategy sets out a wide range of additional support for kinship carers, from new training and information so they have a better understanding of their rights, to high-quality peer support within local communities.
A key commitment of the government’s wider children’s social care strategy is to improve partnership working across all relevant agencies, including the police, health and education.
That’s why the government has also today updated the guidance, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’. This guidance clarifies the roles and responsibilities of safeguarding partners such as local authorities and the police, embeds new child protection standards and sets out the importance of having a multi-agency response to protect children from harm.
The government has published a children’s social care national framework setting out the core principles and goals of children’s social care. This will ensure all the relevant organisations have a joint understanding of what children’s social care should deliver for the families and children it supports.
The data collected about children and families and the information recorded about their lives and interactions with children’s social care is sensitive and needs to be treated with care. It’s also held in many places which can create challenges. That’s why the government is also embarking on ambitious data transformation across children’s social care. The data strategy published today sets this out, and also commits to improving existing data services and testing innovative and sensitive practice in this area.
Today’s updates are another step towards wide-reaching reform – providing families with the right help, and ensuring children are safe and supported. This is all part of the government’s continued work to reform children’s social care, as set out in, ‘Stable Homes, Built on Love,’ published earlier this year. It set out how the government will help families overcome challenges, keep children safe, and make sure children in care have stable loving homes, long-term loving relationships, and opportunities for a good life.
In another step towards delivering the strategy, the government has also started recruiting young people with experience of care, including those with disabilities and special educational needs, to a new youth advisory board to advise the government on the ongoing reforms.