Nearly one in five local authorities do not have a published policy on supporting the needs of children living with family and friend carers, the Family Rights Group has found.
According to the charity’s research, this means 17% of English local authorities are “failing to comply with the most basic requirement of statutory guidance”.
Children’s minister Edward Timpson wrote to all English authorities earlier this year reminding them they should have a published friends and family policy.
The study, ‘Could do better…Must do better’, which was published last week, also found three quarters of local authorities are failing to use local demographic and needs data, or consult with partner agencies, when drawing up their policies and plans for services.
Only 13% of published policies indicated that the authority had a dedicated worker or team to support family and friends carers – often referred to as kinship carers – while a third of published policies made no reference to having a senior manager with responsibility for implementing them.
The charity called for a legal duty on authorities to publish family and friends care policies, and for them to establish and commission family and friends care support services.
Cathy Ashley, chief executive of the Family Rights Group, said local authorities are dragging their feet by not publishing a policy that was required by September 2011. “Even where policies and services do exist, they often bear no resemblance to the specific and distinct needs of the local population,” she said.