Advice and support for kinship carers
Thursday 10 March 2011
A new national training and support service – to provide better help and guidance to Scotland’s estimated 20,000 kinship carers – was launched today by Children’s Minister Adam Ingram.
Kinship carers are friends or relatives who look after a child because they cannot be looked after by their parents.
CHILDREN 1ST will be given around £75,000 in 20010-11 and around £245,000 for each of the next three financial years to run the new service which will include:
- A comprehensive telephone advice service via ParentLine 0800 028 2233 with dedicated staff and volunteers trained in kinship issues.
- Training for kinship carers on issues that they and the children they care for can face, including alcohol and drugs misuse and managing relationships within families.
- Work to help existing local family support groups or address gaps in local support, as well as the creation of a national forum for kinship carers to strengthen their voice in future policy development
- The provision of family group conferencing - a way of bringing the whole family together to find solutions for problems affecting children within a family
- Training on the working of the children’s hearings system and implications for families.
Mr Ingram said:
"Kinship carers provide support, care and love to some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children, often in very difficult circumstances. We are determined to do what we can to help them and the children they care for and have been discussing options with them and their representative groups.
The launch of this new service with CHILDREN 1ST is designed to improve training and support for all kinship carers in Scotland to help them in the challenging but crucial work they do and help given them a greater say in future policy decisions. Indeed, a key feature of the support service will be to continue to consult and better involve kinship carers in meeting their needs and the needs of children they care for.
This builds on the introduction, for the first time, of allowances to kinship carers to help with the cost of their responsibilities and the work we have done with UK Government to remove these allowances from tax and benefit means-tests – worth up to £50 a week for some carers. However, we are very much aware of the ongoing financial challenges faced by kinship carers and will continue to push the UK Government to reform the benefits system so that they are able to apply for ordinary benefits in their own right."
Anne Houston, Chief Executive for CHILDREN 1ST, said:
"We are delighted to be working with the Scottish Government to support kinship carers in having their voice, opinions and concerns heard. We intend to work alongside kinship carers to identify gaps in the provision of support which is desperately needed and to determine how best to address issues that impact on them and their families. CHILDREN 1ST will also develop the service to include and involve children and young people who are looked after by family members or friends, to ensure that they are at the heart of every decision made about their care.
When kinship carers need help, they will be able to call ParentLine Scotland. We are extending our national helpline to be available seven days a week, until 10pm at night. We are currently recruiting new volunteers and we appeal to everyone interested in supporting families, and through them the children, to contact us. We can help you to learn new skills to be able to support others and you will help us grow this vital service."
Lesley Carral, who has cared for her grandson since he was one, said:
"Being a kinship carer has lots of rewards but it isn't easy. My grandson is a bundle of fun but it can be hard going at times. I'm one of the lucky ones and have lots of family helping me. But I've only recently found out about support I should have been getting from the start. I had to give up work to look after my grandson, and a care allowance would have made a big difference. It's not about the money, just about making sure he has what he needs and we have a decent life.
This new service sounds great. Just knowing there will be someone at the other end of the phone to talk to when you need it will help, as will knowing how and where to go to get advice and information. My grandson and I still have a long journey ahead of us. I want to feel confident that I'll be able to do the best I can for him as he grows up. Having access to advice, support and information will make that possible."
Parentline Scotland 0800 028 2233 is a confidential advice service run by CHILDREN 1ST. This centres on listening, providing Information, support & advice and signposting parents to relevant local services. It is run by trained, committed volunteer call takers, who are supported and trained by paid staff. Its training is recognised by COSCA, the national body for counselling and psychotherapy in Scotland and our volunteer management has been recognised through the Investing in Volunteers award. The funding announced today will help increase staffing levels and enable it to extend its opening hours from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, to 9am to 10pm Monday to Friday and noon to 10pm at the weekends.
CHILDREN 1ST has been pioneering family-led decision making and the use of family group conferences (FGC) as a way of bringing the whole family together to find solutions for problems affecting children within individual families. Where it is not possible or desirable for children to live with their parents, family group conferences can identify other family members who can look after the children instead of them being taken into care. Family group conferences can also help children and young people with other issues, such as education, health, misusing alcohol and drugs, getting in trouble with the police or problems at home.
Last updated: Thursday 10 March 2011