5th March 2014. This article by Alliance Chair Anne Swartz appeared in the Guardian Comment is Free today.
Kinship carers fulfil a vital need for the children they care for while saving taxpayers money, yet their right to assistance is under threat
Kinship carers – relatives or family friends who permanently care for children who would otherwise be in the care system – held a large demonstration outside the Scottish parliament last week. They are rightfully distraught that, despite years of campaigning for recognition and support for the vulnerable children in their care, the Scottish government is planning to reduce, rather than increase, their right to assistance.
The children and young people (Scotland) bill sets out a new legal status called a kinship care order, which the government claims will finally recognise kinship carers in law and increase the support they are offered. However, a closer look at the proposals reveals they are billed as saving the Scottish government and local authorities money by reducing the number of kinship children with “at risk” or “looked after” status, which entitles them to crucial services and financial allowances. The financial memorandum of the bill states that only a fraction of those applying for the new kinship care order are expected to be entitled to start-up grants, the legal cost of applying for the order or a basic allowance to support their caring role.