A study investigating children’s views of informal kinship care arrangements in the UK has been commissioned by the Frank Buttle Trust.
The University of Bristol study will examine the experiences and outcomes of children being cared for by family and friend carers – with no involvement from social services – and their carers.
Prof Elaine Farmer, of the Centre for Family Policy and Child Welfare at Bristol University, said the study should reveal, for the first time, how many children live with relatives as well as their health and finances.
“It will find out how well informal kin carers cope and what their needs are and will also explore children’s views of the benefits and disadvantages of growing up with informal kin,” Farmer said. “The research will provide much-needed evidence about what would make these children’s outcomes better.”
Invisible and disadvantaged
It is estimated that 200,000-300,000 children live in informal kinship care. Frank Buttle Trust described this group as an “invisible, disadvantaged population whose carers often have high levels of unmet need.”
A smaller study of 30 children in kinship care in Scotland published in the latest issue of Adoption & Fostering (Vol 33, 2009; p63) found most children felt their lives were “positive and ordinary”.
However, it also revealed a mixed picture about the social work support children were receiving, with an absence of clear planning in some cases which left children feeling uncertain about the future.
The study concluded there had been a “missed opportunity for using the strengths of families by applying family group conferencing to clarify plans, roles and responsibilities”.