Date: 27 May 2022

The Independent Review of Social Care Final Report was published on Monday 23 May 2022.

Chapter 4 of the review titled Unlocking the potential of family networks makes ambitious recommendations around kinship care. There will be time in the coming days and weeks to digest, unpick and think more deeply about the detail of the recommendations and plans for implementation. But for now, for today, we should pause and welcome the significance of the spotlight that has finally been shone on kinship care. Kinship care matters and this has been reflected in the review.

The review acknowledges that kinship carers have for too long been “a silent and unheard majority”. To the many kinship families providing safe and loving homes and to those of use working with them, let’s celebrate that our voices have been heard.

The recommendations in the report, if implemented, will have a significant impact on the lives of children and their kinship families.

Recommendations in chapter 4 explicitly articulate the value of family networks in supporting and keeping children safe (pg. 99) and (pg. 103). These include the introduction of legislation to mandate the use of family decision-making before a family reaches Public Law Outline (PLO) when the Local Authority is considering making an application to the court to address concerns about a child or children. This proposal aims to ensure that potential kinship carers are identified and involved in decision-making around a child as early as possible and hopefully in a meaningful and respectful way that encourages true partnership working with families.

The review also recommends legislation to create a new ‘Family Network Plan’ which would articulate the support (including financial) needed to make a family led alternative to a child going into care workable and successful. We know families can provide solutions and safety for children. The funding of and support of these plans would become a statutory duty, as would requirements to review, monitor and measure outcomes.

Further recommendations make welcome references to specific financial, legal and practical support being made available to kinship carers.  The review recommends a kinship allowance payable to all special guardians and kinship carers with a child arrangement order at the same rate as foster care allowances. This would be without reliance on means testing or other arbitrary limits. If this was implemented this would relieve many kinship carers of the stressful need to fight or jump through hoops to achieve any semblance of a regular income to care for their vulnerable children.

The review also recommends an extension to the eligibility to legal aid. This is to ensure new or potential kinship carers have access to independent legal advice to inform their decision-making around appropriate orders for the children. This could extend to existing carers in helping protect them from litigation where there are disputes with birth parents. The recommendation for kinship carers to be granted paid kinship leave that matches adoption leave is also a welcome and long awaited call for fairness and equity for the many kinship carers who have until now needed to either leave their employment or take unpaid leave to prioritise a child moving to their care.

Another recommendation introduces the requirement for local authorities to provide or commission both preparation groups and bespoke training, as well as peer support groups to ensure that kinship carers can develop the skills and knowledge needed and receive continuing support, to enable them to best meet the needs of their children in their care.

The final recommendation invites a new legal definition of what constitutes kinship care that is common and universally held - this is to ensure the definition can be usefully relied upon as a passport to services and support. It also acknowledges the need to consider this retrospectively for existing kinship carers. The review acknowledges the potential complexity of arriving at an agreed definition, but invites government to consult on the wording of such a definition as part of the implementation plan.  Such a definition would be practically and structurally useful. Perhaps as equally importantly it will be psychologically validating for the many kinship carers who have felt invisible and misunderstood.

The review must be credited with acknowledging and articulating some of the fundamental barriers and challenges that face kinship carers. It has made an attempt to remove the inequity of eligibility to support being based on current legal status and/or previously looked after status. It recognised the value of kinship carers having stepped in when needed, but this then having an impact on their access to support later down the line. It has recognised some fundamental needs for equity of support for kinship carers which is a pivotal moment for us all.

Whilst these recommendations are broad and ambitious, CoramBAAF is also left with some questions. It is clear that one of the main drivers of the review is the need to reduce the number of children in the care system. No one in the sector would disagree with the urgent need to work towards that objective. The number of children in care steadily has been steadily increasing. So we will take time over coming weeks and months to scrutinise the detail of the recommendations and implementation plans. We will consult with our members, sector leaders and kinship carers themselves about what these recommendations will mean, and think through the risks, the opportunities and the gaps.

We await further detail about what the government will commit to implementing. It is clear that significant financial commitment is required to realise many of these recommendations and the proposed “implementation project boards” will be crucial in thinking through some of the realities for day to day social work practice.

In his response to the Review on publication day, the Children’s Minister Will Quince responded to a question from Andrew Gywnne, Chair of the APPG on Kinship Care and a Special Guardian himself.  The minister said “trust me when I say that I want us to change the game on kinship care and special guardians”. CoramBAAF will be working to ensure the government remains committed to this change agenda.

CoramBAAF will engage with members to seek your views and continue to make representations while the discussions about implementation begin so that this moment can indeed be the game changing moment we all need it to be. Do email Clare ( and me ( your thoughts and comments, and watch this space for further blogs as we delve deeper!


Ann Horne, Kinship Care Consultant, CoramBAAF