A survey produced by Kinship, a company providing support and assistance to kinship carers, has found that only 11% of carers received support from their local authorities to help with contact between children in kinship care and their parents, and a further 23% wanted support but did not receive it.
The survey also noted that 62% of carers they polled believed the children in their care had long term physical and mental health needs.
The figure of 62% marks a 43% increase from the last survey carried out by Kinship in 2010, raising important questions about why these needs may be rising.
The survey found that only 33% of children had received a formal diagnosis and that of those children, 40% had been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, 38% with behavioural issues, and 38% with an attachment disorder.
The poll also held that 36% of the children had special educational needs, a figure three times the national average (12%).
Kinship care refers to children whose parents are unable to look after them on a short or long term basis and are cared for by other relatives, or by other adults who have a connection to the child, such as a sibling, close family friend or neighbour. The majority of kinship carers are grandparents.
The survey gathered the views of 1,651 kinship carers, which in relative terms is an extremely small sample. We couldn’t find an exact figure for the number of kinship carers in England and Wales but a conservative estimate might be 100,000 adults caring for these children under such an arrangement.
There are currently more than 200,000 children in the UK being cared for by family or a friend.