St John’s Labour County Councillor Richard Udall is calling for an independent investigation into the support provided for kinship carers in Worcestershire by Tory-run Worcestershire County Council.
Kinship carers are relatives, usually grandparents or older siblings, of children who need care. They are often sent by Children’s Social Services to live with relatives if their parents are unable to care for their children. Richard said “It is clearly a good idea, it keeps families together and prevents children having to go into care, but it is not an easy option for the relatives, many have told me that they have been forced into poverty and are struggling to cope. Too often the County Council see kinship carers as not the best option but the cheapest option”.
Richard has heard reports of kinship carers in Worcestershire having to use food banks, not having enough money to buy children’s clothes and examples of children not having beds. “These are some of the most vulnerable children in the county, we just can’t dump them onto relatives and expect them to cope, we need to offer much more support”.
“Grandparents and older siblings want to help, but they need more help from the County Council, they never expected to be caring for children of other family members, it was never in the long term plan, some are really struggling and do not have the proper support or resources to do the job”.
He added “Some kinship carers have been forced into crisis, they are suffering under the strain and don’t know who or where to turn for help”.
“The real consequences are often hidden as relatives will do all they can to help children and don’t want to admit they can’t cope, they want to avoid the children going into care, the County Council really need to do more to identify those who are struggling and to offer more support and assistance”.
Richard is asking for kinship carers who have experienced problems or have concerns to contact him, so he can gain a more accurate picture of the situation. “I believe we need to establish a scrutiny investigation into the issue, we need to know the facts and learn from other councils how to do the job better and to help relieve the stress and anxiety we are placing on to family members who are helping the council to avoid children from having to go into care, often at their own cost and at their own expense”.
Kinship carers can contact Richard by email firstname.lastname@example.org
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