What we do is in the name, but in truth there are many things that we have to go through that others wouldn’t know. As every case is different depending on the situation, some may not apply directly to you… but here we are 10 things to expect once your a kinship carer.
1. Prepare to have your entire existence personal life and details looked under a microscope by “professionals” – To check your a viable carer and secure a permanent order you may need to go through every check under the sun and even attend a medical to check your healthy enough to care for your little one (even though you may have been doing it for last year and they hadn’t bothered to check before)and you have somehow managed to cope even after you have been denied respite and your nearing exhaustion.
2. There are other carers like you, but you think your the only one – Due to the lack of information out there us carers often think we are the only ones! After we become carers we get so desperate to be understood that we have to seek understanding. This leads to something positive as we will find at least one person in nearly a mirror image of our lives.
3. You will receive “minimum information” and you will need to seek advice sometimes legal advice – I know, you opted to be a carer and do the right thing by the child but the truth is local authorities are not often that forthcoming with information. They will tell you the basics and send you on your way with no clue. My advice to any carer is search for as much information as possible especially in the beginning.
4. The child you care for will suffer from rejection and occasionally take this out on you- These kids only have us left with feelings they don’t understand and can’t explain we are their emotional “punching bags” at times their constant, their miracle workers, their protectors. We have so many roles to fill and often our LOs can be more challenging than their peers.
5. You will spend a lot of time filling out forms and chasing everyone up- I cannot count on my hands and toes how many times I’ve had to chase my social worker over absolutely everything. No-one ever tells you As well as being a carer you will be an unpaid secretary calling absolutely everyone. Your phone bill will soar and You will frown and sigh Everytime you hear “out of office” and “annual leave”
6. You are not always entitled to support – YES you heard me right, NOPE nada not a bean! If you have a non looked after child on an informal arrangement prepare to fight tooth and nail for any kind of support. If you do manage to get help this is at the local authority’s “discretion” and these payments may not come into place until you have obtained an official order.
7. The whole process is time consuming – think it’s all going to be sorted in a few months? No guess again everything takes absolutely ages, you will face uncertainty as you wait for what seems as a never ending process.
8. Use a solicitor – if you are lucky enough to have your legal costs paid do not be swayed by anyone not to use it. You will need it, and even if you don’t think you dont still sway on the side of caution. Do not feel guilty you are entitled to this!
9. Check your entitlements – Can you claim for the child? Are you entitled to the pupil premium? Are you entitled to an allowance? It’s the classic term if you don’t ask you don’t get. As much as caring isn’t about the money and our children are at the front of our concerns. If you suffer financially so will they, these are already vulnerable kids let’s not add child poverty to the list. You will again need to insist on this help.
10. Prepare for people disappointment - This may or may not happen to you, but when you're in this situation it really is an eye opener to the people you have around you. Prepare for some friends to be total let downs and some others to be amazing whilst you're going through the process. Family may also be less forthcoming to help than you might of first expected, and in the same way some may just shock you.