Sibling carers are being failed by social services, according to a report by the Family Rights Group.
Older siblings are often overlooked by local authorities as potential carers due to their young age, the report said, and many who do look after a brother or sister often do not receive the support and benefits that other carers do.
Cathy Ashley, chief executive of the Family Rights Group (FRG), said: “Too often we’re failing those who most need our help, with the research study citing example after example of social care services making these young people’s situation so much harder than it need have been rather than giving them the support they so desperately need.
“We very much hope this report is a wake up call to local authorities and to government.”
The report made a number of recommendations to the national government and local authorities, including a suggested amendment to the Children’s Act that would define any child being looked after by a family member as a child in need.
The government should also consider the introduction of a national financial allowance for family and friends carers who raise a child where there is professional or judicial evidence that the parents are unable to do so, the report said.
The FRG have also proposed that the benefits system acknowledge the specific situation of sibling carers, including acknowledgement that for a period of at least a year, they may be unable to seek work due to caring responsibilities.
Local authorities also needed to be clear with sibling carers about their legal status and that of the child they looked after. This should include according them the status of foster carer and foster child where the local authority has played a major role in arranging the placement, the report said.
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