02 January 2019

A review of kinship carer surveys: The "Cinderella" of the care system?

This paper from AIFS systematically reviews surveys of kinship carers to identify messages for policy and practice about the characteristics and support needs of kinship care families. Over one-third of respondents in each survey were sole carers, usually female. Financial hardship was reported by one-third or more respondents in each survey.  A range of other problems were also reported including high levels of physical and mental health issues; expensive and protracted legal contests over care arrangements for children, including multiple court cases; a myriad of unmet support needs including legal aid, respite care, emotional support, assistance with parental contact arrangement, help with children's schoolwork, and help for children with emotional and behavioural issues. While there were high levels of contact with children's mothers, fathers and other family members, there was a mixed picture of parental contact arrangements with many difficulties. Despite the difficulties in being a carer, kinship carers expressed much joy and satisfaction with their caring role. Also although low educational achievement has been widely observed among children in out-of-home care, in the two surveys that reported on children's education, more children than not were reported to be making good educational progress.