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Forgotten Children: Children growing up in kinship care

This report is based on a survey of the 2,000 members of the Grandparents Plus Support Network for kinship carers funded by the Big Lottery Fund. Membership of the Network is free and open to all kinship carers. Members are mostly recruited by word of mouth, online and also in response to media stories highlighting family and friends care. Others are recruited via their membership of local support groups for kinship carers.

The survey was carried out in early 2013, using both postal questionnaires and an online version via Survey Monkey. The design and content of the survey builds upon a similar survey conducted in 2011. 310 valid responses were received (a response rate of 16%) and were cleaned to remove obvious errors and inconsistencies and the paper responses were logged on Survey Monkey. The survey covers 420 children. We also followed up a sample of responses with telephone interviews to get a more detailed insight into the lives of respondents. Some quotes have been added from a separate survey conducted in 2012 with kinship carers to explore challenges around raising (parenting) kinship children.

Some questions were directly aimed at the carers, such as about their employment status or wellbeing and other questions were aimed at individual children in their care, such as the types of problems being encountered by the child. The sample may be skewed towards families with fewer kinship children, possibly because of the extra time needed for kinship carers with several children in their care to complete the survey.

In comparison with data on kinship carers from the analysis of 2001 Census data1, it is clear that kinship carers who are not grandparents are heavily under-represented, as are those from ethnic minorities. It is likely that kinship carers who have only been in a fulltime caring role for a short period are also under-represented, along with kinship carers from the most marginalised and vulnerable social groups, for example those caring for the children of prisoners and people from traveller communities.

This report focuses on the children in kinship care, and presents a summary of other findings on the demographic characteristics of kinship carers and the children they are raising to provide context.

All the names in the report have been changed.