Extra £10 million for allowances to kinship care families.
The Scottish Government will provide £10.1 million to councils to raise kinship care allowances to the same level foster care families receive, the Children's Minister confirmed today.
The funding announcement follows the First Minister's pledge last week to ensure that children looked after by relatives are entitled to the same support as those placed with foster care families. This meets a commitment to introduce parity of allowances for children in formal kinship care made in 2007.
This announcement goes further and extends support to those eligible children on the edge of care who are subject to a Section 11 order of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 which from April 2016 will be known as a Kinship Care Order.
The Scottish Government also reiterated its commitment to working with partners towards a unified national allowance in the long term.
Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell said:
"Vulnerable children in kinship care families deserve to be treated the same as other children who can't live at home. Often the circumstances that lead to a relative taking a child or young person into their home are heart-breaking, confusing and complex for all involved. Having a family relationship provides stability and support, but it can be a significant upheaval and one which needs proper support.
"The additional investment of £10.1 million will improve the lives of around 5,200 children, delivering practical improvements for those who have had to struggle in the past as they strive to provide security and stability for some of Scotland's most vulnerable children and young people. Today's announcement is also recognition of the incredible commitment and dedication that all kinship carers make every day and we want to show our appreciation and gratitude.
"We will continue to work with local authorities, kinship carers, and other partners to let kinship care families know what they are now entitled to and how to access it."
This announcement is the result of close working between the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) to establish how best to fund councils to expand the support.
Anne Swartz, Chair of the Scottish Kinship Care Alliance, said:
"We are delighted that the Scottish Government has finally recognised the comparable needs of children in kinship and foster care, which kinship carers have campaigned tirelessly for. This will make a huge difference to the 5,200 children who will be entitled to further support.
"However, the Buttle UK comprehensive 2013 report 'The Poor Relations' claims there are at least 20,000 kinship carers in Scotland (or 1 in 71 children) and most of these placements are informal, and will therefore be left out. We must not let the majority of children in kinship care become more marginalised and vulnerable. We will continue to work with the Scottish Government and kinship carers across Scotland to get all kinship care families recognised and supported. "
Councillor Stephanie Primrose, CoSLA Education, Children and Young People Spokesperson said:
"I'm pleased to see that we have reached an agreement with Scottish Government which will ensure that kinship carers who look after children on behalf of local authorities will receive the same amount of money as local foster carers.
"This agreement has been the fruit of over a year's work with Scottish Government and local authorities. It means that a kinship carer will receive an allowance from the local authority which will equal the value of the allowance paid to local foster carers. We have also agreed as part of this deal that councils will now pay allowance to carers of eligible children that have secured parental rights through a court order.
"This agreement has been reached with the help of new money from Scottish Government, but also comes about because of a massive commitment from local government. With budgets under pressure at the local level, this was not an easy commitment for local government to make, but I feel that it exemplifies the support of local government for vulnerable children and shows what can be achieved by local and Scottish Government working together at the national level."
Chris Oswald of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland said:
"The EHRC welcomes this announcement as we believe that there is no reason why looked after children who are living in kinship care should receive less financial support that those living in foster care. Our own research into the issue demonstrated that whilst many Local Authorities were making comparable payments, unfortunately the majority were not.
"At a time when there is pressure on public sector budgets we are pleased that the Government and CoSLA have responded positively to these concerns and worked to provide a package which recognises that the costs of childcare are the same whether the child is being fostered or is in kinship care arrangement."