How the local authority could help Kinship carers in 5 simple steps:
Some posts should just be short and sweet. Like this one!
Kinship carers can often be left scratching their heads at some of the aspects and procedures involved in Kinship care.
Here are 5 things the local authority could do to help kinship carers today:
1. Information: When you become a kinship carer you should be made aware of the different terms and orders for the child at the very start. A welcome pack would help a lot of carers that feel overwhelmed with the prospect of long/short term care that can lead to a lot of unanswered queries. A simple book or leaflet could answer a lot of questions Kinship carers have and make child protection policies easier to understand.
2. Links to support groups in the area: Instead of waiting until a child is placed on an order, the local authority could provide links in the area to active support groups that would support a carer from day 1. Many orders take a long time to be granted, meaning by the time these referrals have been made these carers are often at the brink of stress and desperate for advice from peers.
3. Financial clarity: The local authority should be clear on whether your entitled to financial help, at the very start of placement. This should also specify whether you have Looked after child or a non looked after child so you know what support is available from the start. You should also know if you can claim working/child tax credits for the child as this will help you balance the finances at home and may help with extra costs like childcare. Tax credits depending on your financial situation can fund up to 70% of your childcare costs if the child attends an Ofsted registered facility. Once you have checked if you can claim you can get an idea of eligible benefits you can claim using the benefits calculator.
4. The law matters: What are we allowed to do with these children? Can we take them on holiday? Can we change their schools? A frequently asked question page would go very far, making it clear for kinship carers just how they can manage problems that arise with our Los. We also need to know what happens if we are unsuccessful in our orders, and what the financial cost will be for financing court fees. When the local authority also says you are entitled to free legal support there needs to be direct links to solicitors in your community that offer this service.
5. Be clear on contact: If the children still have contact with birth parents we need to know how that contact will be arranged. Who is responsible for overseeing contact? Where we stand if contact is causing the child issues? and if there are concerns for the child's welfare during contact what we can do if parents still have parental responsibility. Advice on how to manage contact would be extremely beneficial to most carers who are turning to support groups on social media for advice.