Children looked after by relatives and family friends are the topic of a national conference hosted by Citizens Advice Scotland in Edinburgh today (Wednesday). The event takes place exactly one year on from the formal launch of the Citizens Advice Bureaux led Kinship Care Advice and Information Service.
Local and national government, voluntary agencies and kinship carers will learn about current practice and look at ways to improve services for relatives and family friends who look after children when their parents cannot. Citizens Advice Bureaux can assist all kinship carers with impartial and free advice including entitlement to benefits and, for some, the recently introduced kinship care allowance.
Delegates at the conference will be asked for practical suggestions for improving policy and practice for kinship care. Citizens Advice Scotland will be sharing delegate’s ideas – along with the evidence gathered from advising kinship carers – with local authorities, Scottish and UK government.
Chief Executive of CAS, Kaliani Lyle, said today:
“One year on, the CAB’s kinship care advice service is making a real difference. Many kinship carers, especially the least well-off, have learned from their local CAB that there is extra help – both financial and practical – available to them. Right now, the arrangements for providing assistance to kinship carers are too complex. That’s why we recommend every kinship carer gets individually tailored advice. We hope this conference will encourage local, national and UK government to work together to create a simpler and more transparent system.”
For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact Alizeh Hussain at 0131 550 1014 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
1. Kinship care is a non-legal term used to describe an arrangement where a child or young person lives with and is cared for by grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers etc. Advice for kinship carers is available from local CAB offices (number in the phone book) or by accessing the advice line 0844 576 2955.
2. Citizens Advice Scotland has three years of funding (2008-2011) from the Scottish government to establish and run the Kinship Care Advice and Information Project.
3. It is estimated that there are around 10,000 children in kinship care in Scotland, of which about 20% are ‘looked after’, i.e. have an active involvement with social work.
4. All kinship carers, regardless of the legal status of the child, are advised to seek advice from their Citizens Advice Bureaux as the rules governing benefits, tax credit, income tax etc. are complex. Only kinship carers for children who are ‘looked after’ can claim a kinship care allowance from their local authority under the rules of the Concordat establish by Scottish Government and CoSLA. Local authorities must have a scheme in place by 2011 – schemes, including the amount paid, vary across local authorities. Claiming an allowance is not advisable in all cases, as the loss of other benefits, such as Child Tax Credit, can leave a household less well off.