JULIAN and ANNETTE WOOTTON Grandparents and kinship carers
‘I was told I was too old to foster my grandson’
There was never any decision to make about whether or not Julian Wootton and his wife Annette would look after their grandchild when his mother’s drug problems became serious.
But it would take the Woottons, both retired teachers from London, three court appearances – at which they represented themselves to save on legal costs – and around 18 months of hard work to ensure they got the result they wanted.
At first Wootton, 68, says it looked as if they would have to accept the court’s decision to grant them a residence order. The couple had already been told they were too old to foster.
“But that was an illogical argument as they were willing to grant us a residence order,” says Wootton.
Eventually they were designated kinship carers of their grandchild and received what Wootton describes as a “full allowance” from their local authority.
Had they been granted a residence order or a special guardianship order, Wootton says they would not have been entitled to as much financial support.
Wootton is critical of a system which he believes is littered with inequality particularly for those who are not in contact with social services.
“There are others like us doing the same thing who get nothing at all. And if you are not in the care system there is no obligation for people to do anything,” he says.
He welcomes the promise of increased financial support for kinship carers but only on the proviso that it is not means-tested and set at a reasonable level. “You need the money. Even if you have a decent pension, bringing up children is an extremely expensive business,” he says.
When he and his wife took over caring for their grandson Wootton was still working but retired soon afterwards.
“It was sooner than I had planned because I needed to help look after my grandchild. This isn’t something you ever plan to do and it’s an enormous undertaking.”