To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of support available to kinship carers.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to encourage local authorities to increase their support for kinship carers in the context of the varying levels of support under different local authorities.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the level of need for respite breaks for kinship carers.
The government recognises the important role that kinship carers play in caring for children who are unable to live with their parents. We know that most children benefit from living with someone they already know and trust. Therefore, in recent years we have improved the support to these families.
The government issued statutory guidance in 2011 for local authorities about support for kinship carers. The guidance makes it clear that children and young people should receive the support that they and their carers need to safeguard and promote their welfare. The local authority should also have in place clear eligibility criteria in relation to the provision of support services. This can include providing short breaks (respite) for families where they need this.
The government has also extended funding for the Family and Friends helpline, run by the Family Rights Group, which offers kinship families support, advice and guidance. In 2021 the government added kinship carers to the priority groups that local authorities must include in their school admissions Fair Access Protocols to include children in kinship care arrangements, and this year the government are providing funding of £1 million for the organisation Kinship to deliver more peer to peer support groups to kinship carers across England.
The department is aware from feedback from carers that the provision of support is mixed, and the Independent Review of Social Care, published on 23 May 2022, sets out a compelling case for more support for these families. The department is now looking at the recommendations, including those in kinship care, which will inform an ambitious and detailed government response and implementation strategy, to be published before the end of 2022.