Kinship care

A qualitative study of children looked after by their extended

Kinship care is under-researched, under-resourced and

Department of Health figures show that 13 per cent of
looked-after children are in residential care, while 11 per cent
are placed with family or friends (not parents). So this research
on children looked after within their extended families offers a
much-needed and timely counter balance.

This is a qualitative study of the experiences and views of
carers’ who have taken on the care of children from someone
in their extended family or friendship network. It was conducted in
partnership with the London Borough of Wandsworth as part of its
Quality Protects programme, which is aimed at increasing the choice
of placements for children and at listening to service users’

There are three main report sections. The first describes the
background to the research and its aims, and usefully links this to
other studies, and the legislation and policy context. The
methodology, which had an emphasis on service-user participation in
the research design, is clearly set out.

The second section provides detailed findings from the
semi-structured interviews, describing how the placements came
about and the experiences of the kinship carers. Some key issues
around involvement in decision-making, the provision of services,
and what did and did not help are explored. The outcomes for the
children concerned are examined and advice for other kinship carers
is offered by the carers’ themselves.

The final section offers advice on how arrangements for kinship
placements could be improved and what practitioners and policy
makers need to consider when children are placed with extended
family. The advice from one of the carers to social services was to
value carers a lot more, and in producing this report Laws and
Broad have done just that.

Source: Sophie Laws and Bob Broad, Looking after
children within the extended family: carers views
, 2000,
Department of Social and Community Studies De Montfort

Paul Nixon is commissioning officer (family group
conferences) for Hampshire Council social services.

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