The Scottish Kinship Care Alliance has submitted its first consultation response – to the Scottish Human Rights Commission’s consultation on the top Human Rights priorities for Scotland which they should include in a National Action Plan on Human Rights.
Our response focuses on the Human Rights issues affecting children in Kinship Care in Scotland. The full response is below.
On 15th April the Scottish Kinship Care Alliance will officially be launched at a high profile event in Glasgow’s City Chambers hosted by the Lord Provost Sadie Docherty. A range of MSPs, MPs, councillors, civil servants and other policy makers, Social Work and NHS professionals, journalists, major charities..and of course hundreds of Kinship Carers from across Scotland will be present.
The launch will take place in Glasgow City Chambers’ Banqueting Hall from 11am till 12.30pm on the 15th of April 2013 . It will coincide with the launch of the second part of Buttle UK’s groundbreaking report on Kinship Care in the UK – which uses 2011 census data to give the most up to date figures available on the scale of the Kinship issue in the UK.
Glasgow Kinship support groups have responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the proposed Kinship Order suggested in the Children and Young People Bill. The responses point out the need to address the discrimination that currently exists against children in Kinship Care and ensure that more, not less, children in Kinship Care are able to access support, services and allowances to provide the very basics to the vulnerable children in their care. The responses highlight that:
* Access to the proposed Order and allowances, support and benefits that should come with it must be available to non-looked after as well as looked-after children. Services and support must follow the child rather than the placement. (ie no matter what legal order the child is under they still get help if they need it).
* Though there should be the option for more parental rights and less statutory involvement if that’s what the Kinship family want and the child is happy and settled, social work should remain as a support when needed for example with contact time with parents etc.
* The proposed Kinship Order must come with a legal obligation to provide support to the child. This should include financial allowance, psychological and educational services and respite for the kinship carers.
The Scottish Government have launched a new Children and Young People bill which contains a section on Kinship Care. This could mean big and potentially very positive changes for children in Kinship Care and the carers, but the bill is still in early stages and it is not clear exactly how it will translate into policy and real support yet.
You can see the full bill here . The Kinship section begins at para 149.
It includes proposals to remove the complicated system of different legal orders currently in place, and the unjust differentiation between formal and informal kinship care which depends on the level of Social Work involvement in placing the child, and replace them with one Kinship Order. This would theoretically be available to all kinship carers but would require some assessment of need and suitability by the local authority. Groups across Glasgow will be feeding in to the consultation and we’ll be raising our concerns about how assessment and awarding of the order are carried out. If the bar is set too high many excellent and loving carers will be excluded. If it is set at a fair level there will be a large increase in demand from carers in need and we hope they will be ready for this and able to back it financially.
On Thursday 26th April Kinship Carers in Glasgow and Edinburgh demonstrated at Council Chambers demanding justice and asking council candidates to sign four pledges to support the vulnerable children in their care.
See our press release below..
ACROSS SCOTLAND KINSHIP CARERS TAKE TO THE STREETS DEMANDING JUSTICE
Kinship Carers demonstrate to demand that local election candidates agree to their national manifesto.
36 Council candidates from all main parties meet with carers in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Basic support for vulnerable Kinship children still not in place after years of campaigning.
Grandparents from across Scotland took to the streets today unperturbed by the rain, demanding that council election candidates from all parties sign a pledge to support vulnerable children living with non-parental family and friends.
MLAs in the Northern Ireland parliament heard a plea for kinship carers to receive the same same support and allowances provided for foster parents, on 17 April 2012.
Kinship Care is not just an issue in Scotland but across the UK and Europe. This week in Northern Ireland a debate was held in parliament sponsored by Michelle McIlveen (DUP) over whether there was adequate support for children in Kinship Care. The BBC’s Democracy Live reported:
The DUP’s Michelle McIlveen explained that one third of looked-after children in Northern Ireland lived in kinship care arrangements.
Sue Ramsey, chairperson of the health committee, said family members became kinship carers because their instincts told them it was better for the child not to be taken into the care of the social services.
These were often casual arrangements, she added. The vast majority of kinship carers were unlikely to come into contact with the social services and were not receiving the support they required.
This was partly due to fear, Ms Ramsey explained, citing an example where social services threatened to remove a number of children because their carers had not bought a fireguard.