Tommy McFall goes to Holyrood
Wednesday 1 February 2012
Tommy McFall, a kinship carer from Glasgow talks about giving evidence to the Education & Culture Committee at the Scottish Parliament.
I was invited by CHILDREN 1ST to provide evidence to the Education & Culture Committee on kinship care on Tuesday 17 January.
There were nine MSPs present of different parties; there were also submissions from CHILDREN 1ST, Citizens Advice and representation from the Directors of Social Work.
In my opening contribution, I drew attention to the breathtaking discrimination that kinship children face. I compared it to apartheid, and no one disputed it.
I also drew their attention to the definition, of “a looked after child". How under their definition, a child who under a residency order is excluded from allowances and support, conveniently forgetting that in most cases social workers had encouraged their carers to go for residency orders. Or the absurdity of a gran or granddad, with one or two children having the "looked after status” withdrawn by the children’s panel because the children were "thriving" under their care, and hey presto the allowances and support they were receiving stop, but the children are still living with them. You could not make it up.
I also pointed out the impact of the definitions on kinship carers across Scotland, where some local authorities are translating this definition literally and pay children on residence orders nothing. Some are paying a reduced rate while others are ignoring the definition and paying allowances to both looked after children and children on residency orders.
I reminded the committee of the December 2007 legislation when the Scottish Parliament unanimously voted to give children in kinship care the same allowance and support enjoyed by children in foster care. I also reminded them about their promise to negotiate urgently with the UK Government to secure for kinship carers the same deal that applies to foster carers, where these allowances are ignored and they can still access housing benefit, council tax rebates, mortgage relief, etc.
None of this has materialised. It is still a postcode lottery. Discrimination is widespread, and this continues to be Scotland’s real shame, the way we are treating Scotland’s most damaged and vulnerable children.
Incidentally of all the questions that the MSPs asked, not once did they ask me one. Very interesting.
You can get a full report of the session from the Scottish Parliament website.
This is what the papers had to say about the event. Some reviews on the event:
Last updated: Tuesday 24 April 2012