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Children carers are set to receive cash support
10:30am Saturday 7th July 2012 in Local
TAXPAYERS’ cash is to be handed to carers who bring up their relatives’ children on an informal basis, it has emerged.
Grandparents, aunties, uncles and other extended family members who become heroes to look after youngsters are going to be given extra help from Worcestershire County Council.
Under a groundbreaking new strategy they will be assessed on the same terms as foster carers and are able to claim money in households earning below £38,000.
The means-tested handouts, which would go towards the costs of bringing up the child, will carry on until they reach 16, or 18 if they are in full-time education.
There are no official figures on the number of ‘kin carers’ in Worcestershire, but the council believes the majority are elderly grandparents who struggle with no major income.
Many of the arrangements are informal because the extended families often agree to step in at short notice due to problems in their normal household.
The county council’s Conservative cabinet agreed to back the scheme, known as the Kinship Strategy, at a meeting.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, council leader, said: “This is by no means the cheapest option for the council, but I think it’s the most resilient and will provide the best possible outcomes for children, which is most important.”
The latest figures show there are 77 children placed with known foster carers, such as friends or family, and another 15 fostered to people they did not know beforehand.
But there are believed to be many more children living with ‘kin carers’ where the relative is reluctant to aim to full foster status. Councillor Liz Eyre, the cabinet member responsible for social care, said: “Financial support is all about making sure children get the best possible deal.”
In drawing up the strategy council staff interviewed children in foster care placements and carers.
Eight per cent of respondents said they strongly agreed with the move, with only three per cent saying they disagreed.
One respondent wrote: “Most of the time grandparents are just left to get on with it the best way they know how.”