Kinship carers will be able to access more support and information thanks to a newly expanded advice service, launched this week by Citizens Advice Scotland.
CAS and the Citizens Advice network in Scotland has been running specialist advice projects for kinship carers since 2008, but the new, expanded Kinship Care Advice Service for Scotland will expand the services available to family carers across Scotland, ensuring they are given the support and assistance needed to provide stable and nurturing homes.
The service is funded by the Scottish Government. Children and Early Years Minister Maree Todd MSP launched it at a special event in the CAS office. She said:
“The commitment and dedication it takes to become a kinship carer cannot be underestimated. It can be absolutely heartbreaking for a child who has to leave their birth parents, and therefore we believe the best place for them to live, if it is safe to do so, is in the wider family.
“Retaining a sense of family, identity and heritage helps a child to feel safe, protected and valued, and we are committed to supporting the kinship carers who help achieve this. It is important that we continue to listen to the voices of kinship families to learn how we can better support them - this new expanded service will ensure they are given the advice and support needed to take on this vital role.”
CAS Trustee Flora Scott Martin said,
“The Scottish CAB network provides free, impartial and confidential advice to an average of over 300,000 Scots every year, many of whom are families with children.
“As part of this work, we have been giving specific support to kinship carers through targeted projects for the past 10 years, which has enabled our advisers to gain unique knowledge and experience in the needs of this client group. In that time we have seen over 7,000 kinship care enquiries and have delivered a total of £2.3 million for those carers in financial gain.
“We are delighted to be able to continue and expand that work through this new service, which will be accessible in every local CAB in Scotland and via a national phoneline. The service delivers up-to-date information about the legal and financial aspects of kinship care, tailored to the specific needs of the individual case.”
The national helpline number is 0808 800 0006 and the website is www.kinshipcarescotland.org.uk.