- By Sam Read & Danny Fullbrook
- BBC News, Bedfordshire
The Government has launched its first kinship strategy to try to give more support to carers who provide housing for children in their extended family.
Minister for Children and Families David Johnston discussed the project at a support group in Luton on Thursday.
The strategy will trial providing carers with a subsidy that matches the subsidy that foster carers receive.
They are currently receiving a grant of between £154 and £270 per week per child.
In eight areas of the UK, kinship carers will receive a grant equivalent to that figure, as part of a £20m plan.
The new strategy will also aim to provide additional support in schools to ensure children are recognized as living in kinship homes.
“What we’re trying to do today is take the first big step toward bringing kinship caregivers to the same level as adopters and fosterers,” Mr. Johnston said.
Andrew, 61, from Watford, started looking after his eldest grandson three years ago after retiring as a foster carer a few months earlier.
“When you become a foster carer, or even a foster parent, you choose to do it…in kinship care, you kind of get a call, your family,” he said. are in crisis – you need this child.”
Andrew said he was pleased with the new pilot and added: “When you go to the supermarket with your trolley, you can’t say I’m a relative carer, they’ll say give me your credit card , the receipt is still there.”
Katie, 37, who lives in Essex, looked after her husband’s nephew when he was just seven years old – he is now 20.
When the child arrived, she said, he had attachment and behavioral issues that she had no experience dealing with.
“It became a shock to the system, I gave up my job, my life turned upside down and I had a child to care for,” she explains.
She said the new strategy is “better late than never.”
Lucy Peake, chief executive of charity Kinship, said she wanted to see more action on employment support – although the government said it was issuing guidance to firms.
“About half of kinship caregivers are giving up their jobs when they take in their children,” she explains.
Ms Peake praised some employers, such as Tesco and John Lewis, for being supportive and “showing real leadership in this area”, but said she wanted to see more.
“We also want to see a statutory right to paid leave,” she said.