The Scottish Government have launched a new Children and Young People bill which contains a section on Kinship Care. This could mean big and potentially very positive changes for children in Kinship Care and the carers, but the bill is still in early stages and it is not clear exactly how it will translate into policy and real support yet.
You can see the full bill here . The Kinship section begins at para 149.
It includes proposals to remove the complicated system of different legal orders currently in place, and the unjust differentiation between formal and informal kinship care which depends on the level of Social Work involvement in placing the child, and replace them with one Kinship Order. This would theoretically be available to all kinship carers but would require some assessment of need and suitability by the local authority. Groups across Glasgow will be feeding in to the consultation and we’ll be raising our concerns about how assessment and awarding of the order are carried out. If the bar is set too high many excellent and loving carers will be excluded. If it is set at a fair level there will be a large increase in demand from carers in need and we hope they will be ready for this and able to back it financially.
Kinship carers who obtain the proposed order would have almost full parental rights, in recognition that they are fulfilling a parental role and sadly very few Kinship children are ever able to return to their parents. This would give them freedom to decide on schooling, healthcare, and get passports to take them on holiday, something many Kinship Carers can’t do now. It would also theoretically entitle them to financial and non financial support including educational and psychological help and support for the carers to stay in, or go back to work if they want to.
If the wording of the final bill is strong enough to put a duty (not an optional discretion) on Local Authorities to support children in Kinship Care (via their carers) with adequate financial allowance and educational and psychological services, and if this is backed with the finances from the Scottish Government to make it possible, then this bill could radically address the injustice currently facing carers and give real support to these vulnerable children.
We are very excited about the prospects of this bill, however other promises to support Kinship Carers in the past have not materialised (such as in the 2007 concordat which promised equal support to foster carers by 2010), so this time we want to be really sure that it will deliver what is required for these kids. We’ll be engaging as much as possible with the Scottish Government and other authorities to make sure we get the most out of this opportunity.