To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the suitability of guidance for (a) education, (b) healthcare and (c) other public services on the needs of kinships carers and the children they care for.
28 February 2022
‘Family and Friends Care: statutory guidance for local authorities’ sets out a framework for the provision of support to family and friends carers. Local authorities and health partners/agencies in England must have regard to it when exercising their functions under that section. The guidance can be accessed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/288483/family-and-friends-care.pdf.
The guidance specifically says that cross agency support is important. Section 2.9 states, ‘The provision of effective inter-agency support to family and friends carers is one way to help achieve this (narrowing the gap in outcomes between disadvantaged children and their peers). Agencies should consider the needs of children living with family and friend’s carers when they are targeting their early intervention services, and reflect these needs in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, which is a joint assessment of the health and wellbeing of the local community made by the local authority and health services’.
It also says at section 2.15 that, ‘Specialist services such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and services for children with special educational needs and disabilities must be sensitive to the particular needs of children and young people living with family and friends carers’.
Last year the department issued guidance to change the school admissions Fair Access Protocol list to add children who live under a special guardianship order or child arrangement order. This will help ensure these families are allocated a school place as quickly as possible. In addition, guidance for school leaders sets out that children who were previously in care who now live in a formal kinship care arrangement have the support of a designated teacher and are entitled to Pupil Premium Plus. This is extra funding of £2,345 per pupil given to schools.
The statutory guidance is clear that local authorities should be considering financial help for kinship carers. All local authorities must have a clear policy for deciding which children are eligible for help and services, including financial support.
Support for kinship carers is a key focus of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care. The government looks forward to hearing those recommendations in due course when the report publishes in the Spring.