Allan Young explains why over 10,000 children in Scotland living in kinship care are being let down by a system which fails to recognise their needs
“I became a kinship carer 11 years ago when my wife and I brought our granddaughter home from hospital to care for her in only the clothes she was wrapped in. We had both retired and had no money to fall back on and nobody to help us.”
This is the experience of one kinship carer in Glasgow, and is a story shared many times across the country. It is a story of relatives making immense sacrifices to protect vulnerable children in their family. it it is a story of very little government support and of carers, often grandparents, being pushed into poverty. Fortunately, this is also a story of strength and hope and love.
We need to move beyond warm words to real action to ensure that children and their carers get the support they need and deserve. Kinship Carers need to be listened to and their words acted upon
Kinship carers are family members, often grandparents, who have become the primary carers because of parental drug or alcohol abuse, neglect or bereavement. Officially, there are 10,742 kinship children in Scotland and kinship carers save the government £176 million a year by keeping children out of foster and residential care.
Despite this huge saving to the public purse, kinship carers continue to face significant disparities in support across different local authorities and with other similar carers, such as foster carers.
In 2007, a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for an end to the distinction between kinship and foster carers received unanimous support. Despite this, more than five years later, kinship carers still don’t have equal status to foster carers and many feel discrimination is still prevalent.
We need to move beyond warm words to real action to ensure that children and their carers get the support they need and deserve. Kinship Carers need to be listened to and their words acted upon.
Despite the tremendous challenges many face, not least financial, scores of kinship carers have refused to lie down quietly and have their case for justice and equality ignored.
Just over a year ago the Scottish Kinship Care Alliance was officially launched bringing together a tremendously talented team of tireless campaigners from many different parts of Scotland.
The Poverty Truth Commission was honoured to be a supporting partner at the alliance’s launch. The commission recognises that kinship carers are the experts on their situation and must have their voices heard.
A true insight into the barriers kinship carers face getting the necessary financial and non-financial assistance for the kids in their care cannot be gained, the commission believes, unless carers can tell their stories.
On Saturday 21 June at the Woodside Halls in Glasgow, the Poverty Truth Commission will be Turning Up the Volume on Poverty. On the agenda will be an appreciation of the tireless work of kinship carers in Glasgow and their ongoing struggle for truth and justice.
If you realise the importance of this struggle then please visit the Scottish Kinship Care Alliance website to find out more and show your support by coming along.
Allan Young is the research and development officer at The Poverty Truth Commission. Read more blogs from Poverty Truth Commission.