New focus on kinship care in families green paper

Kinship carers will get training, development and financial support in line with other foster carers the government announced today in its green paper on families.

As part of a package of measures to support families, the government announced it would consult on revised national minimum standards for providers to make clearer how fostering services should recognise and support family and friends approved as foster carers.

Often considered a cheap alternative to taking children into care, councils will also get new statutory guidance on their responsibilities to children and young people in kinship care. A study will be commissioned on family and friends care and the difficulties they face in accessing support.

The government also announced a comprehensive review of the family justice system in the green paper. The review will focus on the management and leadership of the family justice system with the principle that “the interests of the child should be paramount” at the heart of its recommendations. Ministers expect a report during 2011.

Other proposals in the green paper include making mediation compulsory for separating couples, where there are conflicts over residence and contact with children, as well as promises of funding for specialist relationship counselling services for families with disabled children. The government will also trial ways to extend key worker support to families with a disabled child up to the age of 19 while families with a child excluded from school or given an antisocial behaviour order (Asbo) will receive an assessment for family and parenting support.

The Centre for Social Justice, headed by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, has also released its own green paper on families along with a critique of Labour’s record on families, claiming child abuse has risen 34% in the last four years.

The CSJ’s vision includes absorbing Sure Start children’s centres into “family hubs” where health visitors would work alongside other services such as relationship support and therapy, mental health support, law advice and information and support for families of people with disabilities.

Health visiting should also be opened up to non-nurses including social workers while health visitor training should be increased to cover the social and emotional development of children. Social workers should also have better training around early years development.

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