What is a Kinship Carer?
Kinship carers are relatives (grandparents, siblings, Aunts, Uncles or other relatives) or even sometimes just friends of the family, who provide full time (either temporary or permanent) caring support for a child or children of parents who are unable to provide care and support. These children and young people are known as kinship kids. Almost half of kinship kids have a disability or emotional difficulty.
There are a number of ways in which children can live with people other than their parents. There are also many different reasons why a child may be raised or living with a kinship carer. This could be because of parental death, imprisonment, mental illness, substance misuse and separation of parents. Kinship care often happens following a crisis situation. It can be extremely stressful for both the kinship carer(s) and the kinship kid(s).
Kinship Care is an arrangement for a relative or close friend to provide care for a child. This may be an informal arrangement (for example, placed there by the child’s parents without the involvement of the local authority) or a formal arrangement (for example, placed there by the local authority and where a Legal Order has been obtained). When arrangements have been formalised by the court, the kinship carer then has parental responsibility.
The majority of kinship carers are relatives of the child or who have parental responsibility for the child through a Court Order. Many of these arrangements have been undertaken without the involvement of the local authority. Families might need advice and assistance during the early stages of considering whether to care for a relative or a friend’s child.
Advice is available from Kinship, Middlesbrough Multi-Agency Children's Hub (MACH) or Redcar & Cleveland Multi-Agency Children's Hub (MACH). MACH is the first point of contact for Early Help and kinship carers will be offered support, advice, signposting and information. Kinship carers experience some of the most difficult challenges. MACH sits within the South Tees Safeguarding Children's Partnership.
They can often be in poor health due to the stress, anxiety and issues that have led to them becoming a kinship carer. Many kinship carers are aged over 50 and may already be in a caring role, such as looking after an elderly relative. They then take on the responsibility of looking after kinship kids and juggle a dual caring role. Benefits for kinship carers are totally different from Foster Carers. Kinship carers are able to claim for Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits but may not receive any other financial support. Not all kinship carers are able to access additional welfare benefits. For most kinship carers this can lead to extreme financial hardship and poverty. They may face housing issues such as too small a dwelling due to kinship kids living with them.
They often have very limited access to information, advice or advocacy. Above all, they need to know where and who to go to for help including finding out what they may be entitled to claim (for themselves and their kinship kids). Children and young people change over the years. MACH can provide the right support at the right time to help kinship kids and kinship carers get the most out of family life.
However, it is not all bad! Kinship carers often say the rewards are enormous and would not have made a different choice if asked again to take on this difficult and challenging role.
- Adult Social Care Single Point of Access (SPA) Middlesbrough 01642 726004
- Adult Social Care Redcar & Cleveland 01642 065070
- Carers Together (adult carers) 01642 488977
- Charwood Kinship Carers (Support group for kinship carers) 01642 913953/ 07956631061
- Department of Works & Pensions (DWP) 0843 5158313
- Emergency Duty Team (EDT) Middlesbrough 08702 402994
- Emergency Duty Team (EDT) Redcar & Cleveland 01642 524552
- Family Information Directory Service- Middlesbrough 01642 354200
- Family Information Service- Redcar & Cleveland- 0800 073 8800
- Kinship 0330 0167 235, Advice Service number 0300 123 7015
- Middlesbrough Early Help
- Middlesbrough Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) 0344 4994110
- Middlesbrough Welfare Rights Line 01642 729242
- Middlesbrough Multi-Agency Children's Hub (MACH) 01642 726004
- Parents4change 01642 200526/ 0758 4055639
- Redcar & Cleveland Citizens Advice 03444 111 444
- Redcar & Cleveland Council Early Help 01642 130678
- Redcar & Cleveland Council Special Guardianship Order (SGO) Team 01642 444121
- Redcar & Cleveland Multi-Agency Children's Hub (MACH) 01642 130700
- Redcar & Cleveland Special Education Needs & Disabilities Local Offer
- Redcar & Cleveland Welfare Rights Line 01642 771166
- SEND & Vulnerable Learners- Middlesbrough 01642 201831
- South Tees Youth Offending Team 01642 201888
- Staying Put Agency 0800 5875184
- The Junction (Young Carers) 01642 756000
Removing the jargon from kinship care- we have compiled a useful glossary to help you navigate through some of the legal terminology used.
Kinship- formally Grandparents Plus, have been delivering their ground-breaking Sport England funded Kinship Active Programme for the past two years. This programme is delivered in partnership with Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation and Teesside University. Kinship Active provides a supportive environment allowing kinship families to get more active together.
Prior to the Covid pandemic, this programme supported families through face-to-face activities and peer support. The service is currently offering an online programme of physical activity and virtual support groups.
Project workers also provide one-to-one support for families – discussing the specific challenges they face, developing activity plans together, supporting participants to access specialist health services if required and working towards achievable outcomes.
Through building strong local partnerships the project has been able to organise low-cost activities including low-cost swim sessions, free table tennis, walking groups, community café sessions, dance classes and over 130 kinship carers and their children come on day trips for fun activities. Activities are as local as possible to avoid transport costs.
The team can support all kinship families irrelevant of legal order and work closely to support families to make even the smallest of changes to increase their physical activity levels.
Join other carers for a chat whilst getting some support from other carers in your situation. Contact the local Kinship, Kinship Active team for more info and Zoom joining details, Jane Harmer 07943 865601 or Sue Rowe 07943 865586.
Charwood Kinship Carers
This group is a way of getting in touch with other Kinship Carers for free, safe and confidential support. Charwood Kinship Carers is a community organisation based in Middlesbrough. Please do not hesitate to get in touch for further information or for further support. The group has been set up by local kinship carers Frank and Elizabeth Stanton. Want to know more or looking for some peer support advice? Give Frank a call:
Tel: 01642 913953
Kinship Cares Peer Support at Grove Hill
There is another group of kinship families who meet at Grove Hill Community Hub on Tuesdays 10:30- 12 noon. The group is a well established active group that welcomes new kinship carers and their families to come together and meet others in similar situations. The group help each other with practical things such as clothes and toy swaps and also play bingo and have a tombola as well offering peer support. Due to current social distancing rules the group are not currently meeting. We will update this as soon as the group is back up and running.