Note: Please feel free to like the post, comment share and join this blog! The more comments the more ideas I have for future posts that may be helpful! Hope you enjoy reading! Rejoice my fellow carers the recent articles by the guardian are putting Kinship care in the spotlight. This is one way to make our voices truly heard, but with that comes an unfamiliar territory public awareness. As public awareness increases your likely as a result to notice a flock of imposing views, which is inevitable in any cause. Especially when others have not experienced something in life first hand. They can have their opinions but really thats all it is! How they view what they have just read. When an article is published, especially when its written by others. We have no say in how our experience is displayed to the public and normally its only the severe experiences that are likely to get published in these type of articles. Without the many voices of all manner of carers you only get one view of Kinship carers, the view the article wants to publish or how the speaker views the information she has received to subsequently write the article.
A recent article was published by the guardian titled: Caring for a child when their parents can’t? The state takes you for a mug written by Louise Tickle.
So, I feel I must weigh in on this article, I am not going to pick at it too much or over analyse in any way. I think it did a fantastic job of highlighting the differences in support between Kinship Care and foster care and did mention many of the issues we see regularly on our Kinship support pages. However the article is written in a bitter and angry way pointing all fingers in the direction of the state and with this has welcomed the many comments with imposing and often dogmatic views.
Main issue 1: The local authorities are cash strapped, the children’s centres across the UK are closing, more preventions in place to help a child stay within their family are no longer running meaning a child finds themselves within the care system much sooner this puts increased pressure on social care.
So what is our issue with the local authority? We feel social care isn’t investing in our kinship children but is it simply a direct problem passed down? Lack of funding means prevention measures STOP! This puts pressure on Social care. So the help they can give everyone ultimately decreases. This is an issue, but we also need to remember that foster care is invested in because it always has been. They can’t just suddenly stop paying foster carers, when the support is what attracts many into becoming a foster carer in the first place. They know they can fully change a child’s life and get them the relevant support they need and not be left with uncertainty and play a positive part in their upbringing With kinship care they haven’t done this! So.. if a cash strapped local authority has funds free, we are never going to be the first in line unless we are directly entitled.
Main issue 2: We have a shortfall of Foster carers meaning Kinship care will likely increase, 90 children enter the care system each day, with many on 0 hours contracts, unsecure employment, having children later in life and caring for parents as they reach retirement age this is likely to stay on the decrease for some time. Most of the younger population are now struggling to afford their own homes. this will again have a direct impact on foster care.
I’m now going to raise awareness of real kinship care by using the comments from the article and some of the misconceptions people have in general or after reading the article.
1. We are NOT I repeat NOT doing this for the money – A comment made me nearly scream, I cannot say which it was, but it made it seem like we want to insist on the money before taking the child in. As we know none of us insist on anything and most of us are left clueless to our entitlements. No kinship carer would do this for the money, as normally you are only entitled to help if placement was to break down due to finances, so things must have to get pretty darn bad if you have to swallow pride and urge that you need help.
2. Not all carers are grandparents – A comment again, made me wish to roll my eyes so swiftly that they form to the back of my head, so I can no longer see the nonsense wrote on my screen. Kinship Carers can be aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings etc. We can be young or old, and I also want to note the grandparents are not to blame for their own children not caring for their kids we all make our own choices regardless of upbringing and are responsible for them.
3. This brings me nicely to my next point, not all children in placement are there because of drugs, some are but again not all. It could be a whole factor of issues: mental health issues, poverty and even death! In the result of death, no fingers can be pointed in any direction of blame the placement had to happen in this scenario.
4. We are not mugs for caring for a family member – I strongly disliked the wording on this, yes there is injustice and inconsistencies between the different help people receive, but this wording makes us sound bitter for the decision we have made. We have taken responsibility and with this we have experienced difficulties and grown frustrated, our frustration should be highlighted but not in this sense it makes us sound a little too negative!
Here is what we are really asking for:
1. Extra support in extended services if the child needs it such as: support in attachment issues and help with behavioural issues.
2. Help on how to deal with the issues above in a way that benefits the child
3. The same financial assistance or help as other kinship in mirror situations meaning consistencies in councils and how they deal with kinship care
4. Correct information and if needed help with court costs - we want to know what placement with us, or a subsequent order means for the child
5. Financial support if needed so the child doesn't experience poverty
6. Help with housing to make sure we have suitable properties to raise these children
7. Links to other support networks and other carers who can provide emotional support for us too!
8. That each kinship child despite the order SGO or CAO be given a Kinship Passport.
9. Basically we just want HELP to secure these children to avoid a placement breakdown!
A child is a child, my view is all children that need help should receive regardless of their background or circumstances. They are in fact a future generation and we need to ensure they have the best start in life. When we ask for help, it isn’t for us. It is for THEM! We don’t want them to experience any more hardship on top of the difficulties they are already facing. Some issues are out of our hands, we can raise them the best we can, but many have complex needs and issues, attachment issues, oppositional disorder, learning difficulties to just name a few can plague these children with problems that we simply cannot help them alone without support. You put this on top of poverty because many carers have had to quit work and rely on state benefits and then you’re asking for a problem a problem too big for us to achieve alone.
I hope I haven’t offended anyone with my comments above again its just an opinion, but in a world of social media where everything is brought into the public eye and subsequently allowed to comment on we do need to speak out about all sides of Kinship Care, all experiences, all views and with that real change.