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Kinship Care: State of the Nation 2018

Author: Olivia Mervyn-Smith

The findings in this report are based on the largest survey of kinship carers ever - 1,139 kinship carers living in the UK. The survey was promoted widely, including to over 4,000 members of the Grandparents Plus Kinship Care Network, through Grandparents Plus’ Kinship Connected programme as well as via local authorities and social media channels. Surveys were completed using online and postal questionnaires between May – July 2018.

There are estimated to be around 200,000 children living with kinship carers in the UK.1 Just over half are grandparents but there are many others including older brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and family friends. A number of legal arrangements can be made to formalise kinship care placements, including Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs), Child Arrangements Orders (CAOs), which were formerly known as Residence Orders (ROs), family and friends foster care (can also be known as kinship/ connected person foster care – whereby the child remains a looked after child and in local authority care), or a more informal arrangement.

The results of our survey highlight the marked variations in support, both financial and practical, that is available to kinship carers who are looking after children under different legal arrangements. In addition, and new for this year, our survey explores some of the unique stresses associated with kinship care, and their impact on the health and wellbeing of kinship carers.

This year’s recommendations echo those of previous reports, but also highlight that the statutory guidance is not being implemented. There is therefore a need for fundamental, legislative change and investment to ensure that the right support is available to both children growing up in kinship care and their carers.