Kinship care is when a child is looked after by their extended family or close friends, if they cannot remain with their birth parents. Under the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009, kinship carers are defined as "a person who is related to the child (through blood, marriage or civil partnership) or a person with whom the child has a pre-existing relationship".
Kinship care includes children who are looked after and are placed in a formal kinship care arrangement by the local authority. The Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 gave local authorities the power to pay an allowance to kinship carers of looked after children living in kinship care, for the first time.
Kinship care also includes non looked after children, who live in an informal kinship care arrangement. These children may be subject to a Section 11 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 or may be living in a completely private arrangement with extended family, with no local authority involvement at all.
West Dunbartonshire recognises the important role played by kinship carers in providing secure, stable and nurturing homes for children and young people when they are no longer able to live with their birth parents. We believe that kinship carers who take on this responsibility are providing a valuable service and should be supported in carrying out this role.
Support for Children Placed with Kinship Carers
In October 2015 the Scottish Government clarified the new situation in relation to kinship care allowances, agreed with COSLA and provided some additional funding to Councils.
This agreement will not apply to all kinship carers. It applies to:
- all formal kinship carers where the child has a looked after status; and
- some informal kinship carers, where the child is not a looked after child but is subject to a section 11 Order (to be known as a Kinship Care Order), and is or was
o previously looked after;
o placed with involvement from the local authority; or
o at risk of becoming looked after.
Kinship carers covered by this agreement should receive an allowance at a minimum of the same rate as foster carers in their local authority area.
Some kinship carers will be eligible for child-related benefits, which are intended to cover accommodation and maintenance. If a kinship carer is in receipt of any child-related benefits, then the local authority may deduct these from the amount of allowance that it pays to the kinship carer. In this situation, any additional payment to bring the allowance rate up to that of a foster carer is to be considered a wellbeing payment – the kinship carer is already receiving payment from the state for accommodation and maintenance and the additional money is to ensure that the kinship child is able to benefit from opportunities that many children have but that they would otherwise be unable to access.
In addition to potential financial support for the children in Kinship placements (when this applies – see above) West Dunbartonshire also provide support by way of assisting families with the provision of; parenting classes and general support and advice to help Kinship Carers in their very important role. This support is available for all kinship families not just those receiving a financial allowance for the child they care for.
Future Work within the Scottish Government
The Scottish Government acknowledged that a longer term review of allowances for foster and kinship care is required, particularly in light of the roll out of Universal Credit. This will be the remit of the National Allowance Review Group, which will comprise of key stakeholders and which will be announced in due course.