Fostering has many different aspects. Children and young people come into foster care for all sorts of reasons: no two stories will ever be the same. The provision of kinship care is just one of them but it differs from mainstream fostering care. Children enter kinship care for a variety of different reasons. They are broadly similar to those reasons any child or young person might find themselves taken into the care of a local authority. They include domestic violence, parental separation or death, imprisonment, parental substance misuse or physical or mental incapacity. Another common cause is concerns to do with child protection. Practically all kinship fostering placements involve loss of some sort or another. Many arise from circumstances connected with tragedy or trauma. This means that the demands placed upon kinship fostering parents can be onerous from the very start. Notwithstanding this, the recent report; following an inquiry into kinship care published by a cross-party parliamentary taskforce chaired by Catherine McKinnell MP, found that kinship placements seem not to attract the same level of targeted and focused support more mainstream placements do. This should be addressed because when the quality of outcomes is assessed for children in kinship fostering settings, there are tangible benefits. These have been identified by research studies looking into the behavioural, emotional and educational outcomes for children being looked after by kinship carers. As a distinct group, kinship children appear to be making better progress or doing at least as well as their peers in unrelated foster care. But they do not do as well as children and young people in the general population. Analysing information from the census reveals that children in kinship fostering settings are around twice as likely as children residing with at least one parent to have a long-term health problem or disability limiting their day-to-day activities.
Kinship carers are less likely to enjoy the same advantages as either the general population of parents or other foster carers. There is research that highlights the prevalence of deprivation, disabilities or other long-term health issues faced by these carers. There is a correspondingly greater need for support – for both the carers and their children. This, ideally, should be in response to immediate need rather than the legal status of the kinship arrangements i.e. whether or not a child or young person has been formally taken not the care system. Unfortunately, this is what all too often happens in practice.
This recent enquiry has discovered that kinship fostering care is all too often a neglected option by local councils. They seem not to explore potential placements of this type as being a realistic choice early enough in the process. When kinship fostering placements do get considered, often this is late on which leads to the process being rushed. Many of the kinship carers who contributed to the report reported there is a lack of information to make an informed decision. They were also unsure about their rights and responsibilities during the assessment process itself. They reported feeling pressured: often they felt they had to make a choice with little time to prepare or think through the issues. One of the key recommendations being made in the report is that local councils will be subject to a duty to ensure potential placements with kinship careers are explored early on. Additionally, it has been recommended that family group conferences take place earlier rather than later to make sure families are well informed and fully engaged from the outset.
It must make sense to strive to support kinship fostering placements as the number of children now in the care system stands at a record level – the highest since 1985. The child welfare and family justice system has often been described as being in a state of crisis. Yet for children in and on the edge of care, the wider family and community is often an untapped and significant potential resource. A greater focus and commitment to exploring and supporting kinship fostering families could well avert many more children from having to come into care, which is certainly in the interests of the children and young people themselves, society and taxpayers. The Education Secretary has made a promise there will be a ‘broad, bold and independently led’ review of children’s social care. And this will include kinship care within its remit, as a fundamental element of the care system.
Rainbow Fostering: here to answer all your questions and present your options.
At Rainbow, we are here to provide immediate advice and help with questions such as what is foster care? What does a foster carer do? Foster care pay and allowances? Foster care near me? And are there foster care agencies near me is another very common question and; in answer to that, Rainbow can offer applicants opportunities in London, Birmingham, Manchester as well as Hampshire.
The process of becoming an ‘Approved’ foster carer takes around 16 – 18 weeks as a rule. Call our team on 0330 311 2845 and they will arrange an initial meeting with you over Skype at a time that is convenient for you – the process is easy and straightforward.
We are extremely proud that Rainbow has been rated ‘Outstanding in all areas’ by Ofsted. And many of our foster carers have been with us for ten years and more. It’s our hope this provides the reassurance for anyone applying to Rainbow, that we’re an agency that never forgets foster carers are ordinary people doing extraordinary things for vulnerable children. Our foster carers come from all walks of life which is what makes our fostering community such a vibrant place to be.
Yow ill need a spare room to foster a child or young person – Rainbow welcomes everyone with a commitment to fostering irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, gender identity, race or religion.
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The Covid-19 pandemic has presented everyone in the country with an enormous challenge. Now that children and young people have returned to nurseries, schools and universities, it is more important than ever to check the latest advice and guidance to stay safe. For the latest information and advice – https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus
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