Kinship care matters – the National Kinship Care Strategy
That kinship care matters to the 130,000 children living with kinship carers is clear. CoramBAAF is delighted that this has finally been recognised by the Government in the publication of the first-ever National Kinship Care Strategy. The strategy establishes “the foundations for a future, transformed kinship care system in England.”
The strategy includes the following commitments, amongst others:
- Launching a kinship financial allowance, paid at the same rate as the fostering allowance, beginning in up to 8 local authorities
- Expanding the Virtual School Head’s role
- Renaming the Adoption Support Fund to the Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Fund
- New government guidance for employers on how kinship carers can be supported at work
- Establishing a training, information and advice offer for all kinship carers
- Creating a new Kinship Care Ambassador role
- Publishing an updated version of the 2011 Family and Friends Care: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities
- Agreeing work with the Law Commission to review legal orders and statuses for kinship carers
We welcome the government’s vision for kinship families to be supported, empowered and understood. We were pleased to see the commitment to trial financial allowances in eight local authorities, and the commitment to revise outdated statutory guidance. We were disappointed that the definition of kinship care is not a legally binding one, and that decisions about financial support for all kinship carers have been delayed.
We were also pleased to see the strategy acknowledges that children’s safety must be the priority and that relationship-based social work practice and the impact this has on supporting children and their carers is important. Our members tell us that many social work practitioners and their local authorities need advice, leadership and resources to improve their kinship practice at a local level. We urge the Government to put in place extra support for local authorities to realise the vision of the strategy.
The specific reference to proportionate, strength-based assessment practice was also heartening. The current legislative structure significantly shapes aspects of assessment, so we are encouraged by the commitment to the work with the Law Commission to review legal orders. In the meantime, our new kinship assessment format (Form K) will guide practitioners and families through a holistic process that is distinct from fostering and adoption assessment models.
We hope the commitment to the revision of the 2011 statutory guidance will articulate how local authorities can better support kinship families even while long-term decisions about financial support and legislative change are explored. We’re hopeful that the published working definition of kinship care will go some way to ensure that kinship families do feel recognised and understood and look forward to engaging with the Department for Education on this. CoramBAAF will continue to promote best practice and to work alongside key stakeholders to ensure that this is indeed just the starting point.
To explore some of these questions and implications for social work practice, join us for a panel event on 30 January 2024, 11.30am - 1.30pm.