Worcester MP Robin Walker has backed a campaign to give kinship carers the right to paid leave for kinship carers on a par with adoptive parents. Kinship carers take responsibility for a child who lives full-time or most of the time with a relative or friend who isn’t their parent, usually because their parents aren’t able to care for them.
A recent report by Kinship showed that kinship carers, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and older siblings who step up to raise the child of a relative or friend when their parents are unable to care for them, are pushed out of the workforce by a lack of employment support and workplace entitlements, such as paid leave or flexible hours. There are more than 162,000 children being raised in kinship care in England and Wales.
Robin met kinship carers in Westminster on Wednesday 12 July to listen to their experiences of being forced out of work after taking on the care of a child that needed a loving home.
Kinship’s new report, “Forced out: delivering equality for kinship carers in the workplace” shows that more than eight in 10 kinship carers (86%) are currently forced out of the workforce or to reduce their hours when they take on the care of a child, plunging kinship families into poverty and leading to significant additional costs to the state.
Almost seven in 10 kinship carers said their employers did not offer any support to kinship carers, such as paid leave or flexible working hours, when they took on the care of a child. 28% were forced into claiming benefits when they took on the care of a child, and more than one-third saw their incomes slashed by over 50% when they stepped up to care for a child who needed a loving home.
“I am pleased to support Kinship in their campaign to deliver parity for kinship carers and adoptive parents. Taking on the responsibility of raising a close friend or family member comes with the same pressures as adopting and equal paid leave is a logical step in this direction.
“I’m supporting Kinship’s #ValueOurLove campaign and will be working hard, both in Worcester and in Parliament, to press for the financial, practical, and emotional support that these families deserve. Alongside the local organisation Kinship Carers UK
Kinship is urging the UK Government to commit to statutory paid leave for kinship carers on a par with adoptive parents, in its National Kinship Care Strategy promised by the end of 2023. The charity is also calling on employers to deliver kinship friendly employment policies which support employees who are caring for the child of a relative or friend.
Kinship’s CEO, Dr Lucy Peake said:
“The Government must introduce a legal requirement for all kinship carers to have the same access to paid leave and other workplace entitlements as parents and adopters. It would alleviate some of the extreme financial hardship kinship families are facing, helping to keep vulnerable children within loving homes and out of the care system. It would also give these children, who have experienced trauma and loss, time to settle into their new homes.
“We’re delighted to have the support of Robin Walker who can help us achieve the changes kinship families desperately need in Worcester and across the country.”
Leading kinship care charity, Kinship, supports more than 10,000 kinship carers in England and Wales each year through free training sessions, one-to-one support, peer support groups, an expert advice line and their online information and support hub. For more information or support, visit kinship.org.uk