A new survey by charity Grandparents Plus has found that many kinship carers and the children they look after are discriminated against by public officials and other parents.
The survey found that:
- 43% of kinship carers report having being stigmatised, discriminated against or treated rudely or differently, because they are raising a relative’s child.
- Over a quarter (28%) of all kinship carers say they have been mistreated by a social worker and one in six (16%) say the same about teachers.
- One in five (22%) say they are treated differently by other parents, and many report that their child is bullied or excluded from activities by other children.
- 90% say it is more challenging to bring up a relative’s child than raising their own.
- 77% of kinship carers have asked for professional help, but two thirds of these did not receive the support they needed, despite 59% of kinship carers bringing up a child with a disability or special needs.
- 42% of kinship carers surveyed have quit their job or stopped working to care for a kinship child; 46% of those who gave up work are now dependent on welfare benefits.
Children living in kinship care have experienced parental abuse or neglect, drug or alcohol misuse, ill health, domestic violence, imprisonment or the death of a parent. They are very similar to children in the care system but 95% do not have ‘looked after’ status and so are not entitled to financial or practical support and nor are their carers.
The charity has called on the Government to support kinship carers by:
- Guaranteeing that children can receive support based on their needs rather than their legal status.
- Giving them adjustment leave and the same rights that adopters have to paid employment leave and protection, so they are not forced to give up their jobs.
- Ensuring the benefits system supports and does not penalise kinship carers.
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