Do No Harm – Scottish Kinship Care Alliance

DO NO HARM Seminar 11 September 2018, House of Commons

Scottish Kinship Care Alliance message

Kinship care is sadly still the 2nd class option.  Families in poverty, domestic abuse and addiction are the three major categories of babies being removed after birth in Scotland. This is rising and SNIPS workers (The Special Needs In Pregnancy Service) are sent in pre-birth to determine the fate of the child before they even arrive into the world.

Kinship care allows the child to remain within the family unit to nurture the natural blood tie these children have.  It is very rarely the chap at the door (social worker/police) now which used to be common place, instead there are now lengthy waits for the children in foster care of up to 15 months on average, whilst the child’s fate is decided. The family, mostly grandmothers, face assessments for kinship care.  Age has also come into play where it never has before especially with babies.  There is a care crisis and not enough carers for the escalating amount of 0-8 year olds who are being taken into care. We have new incentives for foster carers, rises in fostering fees for children aged 8+ to attract more foster carers, yet we still have UNPAID and unrecognised kinship carers.

We kinship carers save the state millions every year yet we are still treated with inequality and injustice.  When our own adult children die, bereaved parents (grandparents) are now expected to leave their grandchildren for social services to take rather than take them directly into the safety of our families.  If we do we lose the right to social service support both financial and other for these children.  So a bereaved and grieving parent facing the death of their own child, is supposed to not do what comes natural and protect the grandchild.  Instead we have to wait on social workers picking these children up!!  What harm is that causing a bereaved family and a scared child at one of the most difficult and traumatic times of their life.

It is a barbaric way to treat any human being in 2018 Britain yet it happens daily. Children should always be given to family first where that is an option.  Mothers should always be supported to keep their children until this becomes not viable, and only when all support measures have been exhausted or the child is at serious risk should they be taken away.  The term “may be harmed” should not be allowed to be used as a means to remove children unnecessarily from mothers or family members.

Kinship families feel unsupported and sometimes bullied by the social workers threats that “we will just take them then”. Many carers fear that if they speak up or ask for support this is portrayed as them not coping!

There is as yet still no date for the new national allowance for Scottish kinship carers.  When the 2015 ruling was made with COSLA (Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities) and the EHRC, it was ruled that kinship children were comparative to foster children and that should be reflected in the allowances children receive, but this is still far from the case.