APPENDIX F: WIDER SOURCES OF SUPPORT
1. Apart from through Part 13 of the 2014 Act and the 2016 Order, kinship carers may be able to access assistance from other sources. Some of these are listed below.
Part 12: Relevant services for children at risk of becoming looked after
2. The provision of services for children who are at risk of becoming looked after by a local authority is set out in Part 12: Services in relation to children at risk of becoming looked after of the 2014 Act. A local authority must make arrangements to secure relevant services are made available, if this would benefit the child's wellbeing. The relevant services are defined in the associated order (which is due to come into force on 31 August 2016) as family group decision making services and support services in relation to parenting. These services are for children who are at risk of becoming looked after (as well as pregnant women who the authority considers is going to give birth to a child who will be at risk of becoming looked after) and their families. They can also include any persons who have parental responsibilities and rights for the child or any persons with whom the child has been living, including kinship carers who hold kinship care orders in relation to an eligible child.
Carers (Scotland) Act 2016
3. The Carers (Scotland) Bill was passed unanimously by the Parliament on 4th February 2016. It will be commenced in 2017-18 (subject to Royal Assent). The Act will better support both adult and young carers on a more consistent basis. The Act's provisions will further strengthen and enhance the rights of carers.
4. The Act places a duty on local authorities to provide support to carers, based on the carer's identified needs which meet the local eligibility criteria. There will be a specific Adult Carer Support Plan and Young Carer Statement to identify carers needs and each local authority area will be required to have its own information and advice service for carers which must provide information and advice on, amongst other things, emergency and future care planning, advocacy and carers' rights.
5. The Act as currently drafted means that if the child requires care which is over and above that would be required by virtue of their age then the person can be regarded a "carer". Kinship carers may fall under the term 'carer' and therefore be eligible for support.
Support for a child in need
6. A local authority is not under a duty to provide kinship care assistance beyond what is provided for in the 2016 Order. However, under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, local authorities have a duty to support a child assessed as being 'in need'. This provision may be useful for one off or extraordinary costs not covered by the allowance, or for support to kinship carers who do not meet eligibility criteria. Support could be financial or in kind, and could include support when a child first comes to live with a kinship carer.
7. When children begin to be cared for by a kinship carer, many will require essential items such as clothes, shoes, furniture, bedding, toiletries and toys immediately. Family circumstances can vary considerably. Some children may make a gradual move to a kinship carer and already have some possessions; whereas others may move in an emergency and arrive with very little. Local authorities need to respond quickly to ensure the child's needs are met.
8. Some kinship carers who obtain a residence order for a child aged under one are able to claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant. This is a grant of £500 and is administered by the Department of Work and Pensions. To qualify for a Sure Start Maternity Grant, the kinship carer must be in receipt of a 'qualifying benefit'. These are:
- Income support;
- Income-based jobseeker's allowance;
- Income-related employment and support allowance;
- State pension credit;
- Child tax credit paid at a rate higher than the family element;
- Working tax credit which includes the disability or severe disability element;
- Universal credit.
In addition, the claim for a maternity grant made within three months of the date the residence order was granted and must also be made before the child reaches her/his first birthday. A grant will not be made if the kinship carer has another dependent child aged under 16 in the household. However, a grant can still be paid to the kinship carer, even though another person has already been paid a Sure Start Maternity Grant in respect of the child. The grant does not affect any other benefits (see HMRC for more information).
9. Depending on local need, local authorities should consider having an 'essentials pack' of resources that are age specific for children. Kinship carer support groups may be able to provide advice on what items are required. In some circumstances there could be a local authority resource pool including cots, prams and other items.
10. It is important to recognise that children will have formed attachments to particular items, such as teddy bears and comfort blankets. All efforts should be made to ensure familiar items that comfort children travel with the child.
11. Information about national schemes, such as the Scottish Bookbug Trust, Play Talk Read and toy libraries should be promoted. This information and free resources could be included in an essentials pack. Information should be included about local free or subsidised play activities in the local area. There may be appropriate family support projects provided by third sector organisations. Also ensuring young people have access to a Young Scot card that provides discounts and reduced admission prices to leisure and cultural activities.
12. Specific items to consider for different age groups of children:
a) Babies - Moses basket, cot, pram, car seat, formula milk/bottles/sterilising equipment, baby bath, bedding, baby clothes, blankets, toys.
b) Toddlers - Toys, buggies, car seats.
c) Primary school aged children - School related equipment, toys and games, participating in extra-curricular activities.
d) Secondary school aged children - school related equipment, participating in extra-curricular activities, technology and access to social activities.
e) Young people - Attending college and university with associated costs.
13. In some circumstances, a kinship carer may find the direct purchasing of items and/or support in purchasing items by a local authority would be of assistance. The caring role will be very demanding and the additional task of purchasing a wide range of items may be daunting and, in some cases, unfeasible.
14. The financial provisions for disabled children in the UK welfare system are complex. It is recommended that welfare rights officers are involved in advising families who are caring for a disabled child who is subject to a kinship care order. Disability benefits successfully applied for should be considered in addition to kinship care financial assistance (when eligible). There are implications for what sources of funding for disabled children would be available and who has financial responsibility (local authorities, health boards or Department of Work and Pensions). Further details can be found in the Child Poverty Action Group Children's Handbook for Scotland 2015/16.
15. There should be specific consideration of ensuring the needs of disabled children are met when cared for under a kinship care order. These may include physical adaptations required of a property and specialist equipment to assist daily living. It should also be considered that disabled children can be financially disadvantaged due to higher costs associated with leisure activities and appropriate toys and equipment.