Kinship carers are people who provide full-time care for children who are not theirs by birth - the only requirement being that they have a pre-existing relationship with the child.
Since 2009, all local authorities are under duty to pay an allowance to kinship carers. Each local authority has the power to choose the criteria under which they make payments and the discretion to decide how much they pay. As a result this can vary greatly between local authorities.
Depending on the legal mechanism used to make such payments and the legal status of the child, kinship carers may or may not be entitled to claim certain benefits. Kinship care is therefore a very complicated topic for kinship carers, advisers and social workers alike.
The Kinship Care Service, provides first tier advice to kinship carers, ensuring that they are in receipt of all the support they are entitled to. We also offer second tier advice, training and policy support to bureaux, local authorities, kinship care support groups and project stakeholders.
For more advice and information, please visit the Kinship Care Website.
How we helped Jenny
Client names have been changed to protect their identity.
Kinship Care advice was given to Jenny, a new kinship carer, who found herself caring for children within her family within an emergency situation.
Through contact with Citizen Advice Kinship Care helpline and regional officer within Airdrie CAB, advice was given in relation to legal status of the children and explanation on local authorities and their policies to pay an allowance to kinship carers. Advice was given regarding the allowance for children with looked after status and allowance broken down for each child in reference to their ages and in line with the specified local authority, kinship care policy and rate. All local authorities have their own policy and rates of pay. Pre kinship care assessment payments were discussed and the change to these payments once full kinship care assessment was completed, which should be assessed and in place 12 weeks from the date the children were placed with kinship carer.
With CAB assistance, Jenny obtained a financial gain of £11,724 over a 52 week period. She received relevant insight, advice and information in all aspects of kinship care and support available via local community kinship care groups, social work and education. Jenny was also advised on future steps, if required, in relation to residency orders, legal assistance and costs.
*Kinship care is a complex topic. New rules about what help a local authority must provide in the way of kinship care assistance came into force on 1 April 2016. The Scottish Government has provided guidance on these rules; these can be viewed by clicking here.