Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, has highlighted new data which shows the vital role that kinship carers are playing across Greater Manchester.
New census 2021 data shows that there are 7030 children across Greater Manchester currently raised by relatives in kinship care. Kinship carers step in at times of crisis when children cannot remain at home,
Kinship Care Week, starting 2nd October celebrates the role of relatives and friends who step up to raise a child whose parents are not able to care for them.
6 in 10 (59.2%) children in kinship care are raised by grandparents. But many are also raised by aunts and uncles, brothers and sister, other relatives, or family friends.
Kinship care arrangements come about for a variety of reasons. If it were not for the kinship carer stepping in, then the children may otherwise be raised in the care system with strangers.
The love, stability and familiarity provided by kinship carers generally leads to children raised in kinship care having a stronger sense of identity and better life outcomes. However, it comes with many challenges for the children and carers too.
The new census analysis shows that:
- A quarter of (25.3%) of kinship care households contained one or more residents whose long-term physical or mental health condition or illness limited them a lot, compared with 10.0% of parental households.
- Children in kinship care are more likely to be teenagers. 4 in 10 children living in kinship care (41.8%) are aged 13 to 17 years), compared with 27.1% of children living with at least one parent.
- A third (33.1%) of kinship care households contained no employed adults, compared with 13.0% of parental households.
- Kinship care households were more likely than parental households to be deprived in every dimension measured.
Andrew is Chair of the All-Party Group on Kinship Care in Parliament which campaigns cross-party for better recognition and support for kinship care. He and his wife are special guardians to their grandson.
Speaking on publication of the census data, Mr Gwynne said:
“Ahead of kinship carers week, it’s great to see that hundreds of families across Denton and Reddish and thousands across Greater Manchester are stepping up to provide a safe and loving home to children at times of crisis.
“We owe them a huge thanks for the critical role they play in the lives of the children they are raising, ensuring they have the best start in life.
“This has been the mission driving the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Kinship Care forward – ensuring that kinship carers are properly valued and supported for the invaluable work that they do for children across country.”
Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive, Family Rights Group:
“The love and stability that kinship carers provide to the children they are raising is priceless. Without them, far more children would be living in the care system which too often leaves children isolated.
“Many kinship families face adversities and cannot access the support they need. Family Rights Group’s free national advice line supports relatives and friends when children’s services are involved with their child. We hear many examples of unfair practice and poor support.
“Kinship carers cannot be taken for granted. Without them, the care system would buckle. We encourage families to contact us if they need advice.”
Shanayd Warren, kinship carer and co-chair of The Kinship Care Alliance (KCA) said:
“This year has seen significant progress to place kinship care at the forefront, following the Government’s response to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care and upcoming, first-ever, national kinship care strategy. As co-chair of the KCA, working together as a collective, we hope that the Government’s recognition and investment in kinship will be far-reaching to support children and families affected by such arrangements.
“Kinship Care Week is an opportunity to show appreciation and shine light on the invaluable role played by kinship carers and to raise awareness of the children being raised in kinship. Importantly, understanding the challenges faced by kinship carers requires bringing those with lived experience to be a part of the discussion, to share knowledge and gain learning, to strengthen children to thrive in their own families.”