Support for grandparents

Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell.
Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell.

Last week Mary Glindon MP and I met with Grandparents Plus to hear some of the problems faced by kinship carers.

Around 220,000 children across the UK are being cared for by grandparents and other family members, around 570 here in North Tyneside.

Grandparents often step in rather than see the child go into local authority care, sometimes at a time in life when, having seen their own children grow up, they might expect greater financial security and time for themselves.

Then circumstances intervene, from substance abuse to bereavement, and they find themselves with full-time caring responsibilities.

As legal guardians, effectively fostering within the family, they could expect support, but the people we spoke to told a different story.

The children often have significant healthcare, particularly mental health care, needs and sometimes have difficulty at school.

Social services are keen for kinship care, a cheaper care option, but there’s no entitlement to support.

Perhaps an Independent Advocate for such families would make a difference.

But it’s the financial challenge which many carers talked about.

Bringing up any child is costly, but sometimes the children arrive with only the clothes they stand up in.

Kinship care children are three times more likely to be impoverished than their classmates, yet they often achieve higher outcomes than other looked-after children.

Kinship carers take up the challenge for all the right reasons.

It’s important they get the support they need.