Council care system needs urgent re-think

Some kinship carers say they're finding it a financial struggle to care for looked-after children
Some kinship carers say they're finding it a financial struggle to care for looked-after children
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A Levenmouth couple, who provide care for a teenager, claim the care system in Fife is unfair and in need of an overhaul.

The couple, from Buckhaven, are kinship carers – similar to foster carers, but their charge is known to them and close to the family.

However, they have been told they will no longer receive any kinship payments, as their income was considered above the capped threshold after a recent annual review.

This, they felt, was unfair, as the capping policy had not taken the inflation rate into account over the years and they were effectively looking after a child out of their own pocket.

Foster carers, however, did it for a job and often had less of a bond with the children than kinship carers.

The couple, who did not wish to be named, said if they had withdrawn care, it would have cost the Council at least £450 a week to place their charge in a new home.

The Council, they believed, should look again at its policy so that all kinship carers got some financial help for the work they did.

“Kinship carers receive none of the financial benefits or support for the similar job they do [to foster carers], yet they are saving the Council hundreds of pounds each week,” said the couple.

Rae Ormiston, Fife Council service manager for children and families, said: “The issue of state financial and other support to kinship carers is a national issue but, in Fife, we believe every child has the right to a family and are doing everything possible to ensure kinship carers are supported.

Financial support was important in the “vital” role provided by kinship carers, said Ms Ormiston, but this was only one aspect of the help they might need and the Council was in the process of “re-structuring” so that officers could deliver this wider support.