Hundreds of kinship carers are expected to protest outside Holyrood this week in opposition to new kinship care orders which they say will leave children with less support than they currently have.
Kinship carers, who are family members or relatives who care for loved ones (mostly grandparents) – argue the new orders, proposed as part of the children and young people bill, will give less support than children currently receive if they have looked-after status.
The orders will see all children who are cared for by someone other than their mother or father allocated a named carer by law who has responsibility for all aspects of their upbringing.
MSPs were due to debate the bill on Wednesday this week and campaigners want an amendment backed which will increase the assistance available to children looked after by family members.
The Scottish Kinship Care Alliance (SKCA) argues that young people looked after by relatives or family should be given the same support as those looked after in foster or residential care.
Children who are looked after are routinely offered financial and psychological support, albeit at varying levels across different local authorities, while children who are not looked after are not.
We won’t take this lying down – we’ll fight it until we achieve the support we need.
Instead they access some local authority funds which differ from one council to the next.
SKCA now want children in kinship care to be able to access similar benefits to those in foster care. They are calling for a minimum level of financial support across the whole country to avoid the current postcode lottery of assistance that varies anywhere between £40 to £170.
Anne Swartz, chairwoman of SKCA, said: “It is despicable that the Scottish Government is trying to further reduce support, which is already inadequate, under this bill.
“Children in kinship care should not suffer because their family members have taken them into their care, where they have maximum stability and love, rather than letting them go into the foster or residential care systems.”
In Scotland alcohol and drug addiction are the most common causes of kinship care arrangements.
Unlike foster and residential care, most kinship care arrangements are not recognised by the state, and even when they are recognised they are often not supported financially or in other ways.
Swartz added: “These children have comparable needs and should have access to the same services as those in other forms of care.”
One of the campaigners, Eilidh Carmichael, who is also a kinship carer, said the bill was an opportunity to give kinship carers their dues.
“We have been pleading for support for years,” she said.
“Many of us live in poverty and fight to make ends meet because the Scottish Government sees us as a cheap way to subsidise the care system.
“We won’t take this lying down – we’ll fight it until we achieve the support we need.”