The hidden fury of kinship care
Why finance matters
Child poverty is a growing problem in the UK. Shocking considering the UK is the 5th largest economy in the world. In 2015-2016 it was estimated that 30% of the families effected were classed as "poor". In a recent study it also revealed the uk has the highest level of child poverty since 2010. This effects an estimated 100,000 children that now fall into relative poverty.
The guardian recently posted an article entitled "plunged into poverty:Are kinship carers getting the support they need" In a nutshell the short answer is NO many are NOT and this continues to be a huge struggle for all kinds of carers.
The article was rather impressing as it did highlight one crucial point often despaired by us carers. The point that entitlements are more like a "postcode lottery" (the financial help seems to differ for carers in simular situations with some offered more or less help) and the biggest issue effecting this changing is a "resource issue" and "budgetary" constraints.
No wonder kinship carers are left scratching their heads, we essentially do the same for these children as "foster carers" however the entitlements differ greatly. Many kinship carers worry if they admit they are struggling to cope financially and admit this to the local authorities they will "risk" their little ones placement. It is the local authorities job to assess if a child is at risk of poverty, and give support if needed they should NEVER remove a child on financial grounds. If finances are an issue the local authority at its discretion should fix and offer support.
In my opinion we are not just facing a "budgetary" issue we are facing a communication issue between us and local authorities. We are simply not given the information we need, I wasn't given any kind of advice that I could deem useful. I even had to ask if my little one had a "looked after" status. It wasn't the local authority that informed myself of the differences between a "looked after" and an "informal arrangement" i was none the wiser and it was my foster carer friend that I'd met through a Facebook kinship carer group that i was informed that I needed to know this. which begs the question why wasn't I told this? Why wasn't this mentioned from the beginning of little ones placement?
We recently received this message from a current carer, who is suffering from financial hardship. Outlining just some of the issues kinship carers are currently facing.
"Talk about kicking someone while they’re down. So allowance was stopped last week, today I received a phone call from tax credits office, after waiting 9 weeks they’ve finally informed me I’m not eligible to claim for my second birth child because of me having lo.
“The reason you aren’t exempt from this rule is that the rule came into force in April 2017, you guardianship of (child) in 2015, before the rule.
What happened to no placement failing due to financial hardship? because right now I’m feeling pushed to my ultimate limit with these tax dodging scum and a child that hasn’t received a fraction of the help and support he so desperately needs."
Kinship care is a secure placement shown to be beneficiary to these children placed with family members. These children are plagued and already vulnerable suffering with the loss of their parents. Kinship care is the next best thing allowing children to stay with their immediate families and feel more secure in their placement. Do these children deserve to be plunged into poverty because they're parents are unable to care for them? Do carers deserve to be facing financial constraints when often they have no choice? For these children it's us or a life in foster care.
We must continue to support each other and I urge if any carer reading is struggling Right now do not suffer in silence, contact us immediately.
We are here for you.