Press Release: Mentor Launches Kinship Care Week 2017

Mentor launches its Kinship Care Week as a new survey shows high public expectation for grandparents to take on childcare if parents can no longer do so.

24 April 2017 | Press Release

LONDON, 24 APRIL 2017 – Mentor Launches Kinship Care Week 2017: 24th-30th April.

Kinship carers are family members or friends who look after children when their parents are unable to. Mentor today launches its Kinship Care Week as a new survey shows high public expectation (73%) for grandparents to take on childcare, if parents can no longer do so. Only 6% would chose a statutory care home.

Kinship carers already report a lack of support and feeling isolated. A previous survey by Family Rights Group found 80% of kinship carers felt that when they took on the child, they did not know enough about the legal options and the consequences for getting support to make an informed decision.

Kinship Care Week offers an opportunity to recognise the selfless work of kinship carers, raise awareness of kinship care in the community, and promote best practice among kinship care professionals. The week will culminate in a BBC Radio 4 charity appeal broadcast, presented by Mentor Ambassador Baroness Greenfield on 30 April at 7:55am. Other activities include: articles and video messages on Mentor’s website, a social media campaign and training seminars.

Across the UK between 200,000 and 300,000 children and young people are being cared for by a relative or close friend due to a range of difficult family circumstances, including bereavement, family breakdown, abuse or neglect. Estimates suggest that two thirds (67%) of these children are being looked after because their parents have experienced difficulties related to drug and alcohol misuse.

A recent survey by UK Market Research showed when parents were asked who would they choose to look after their child/children if they were no longer able to, 73% elected the grandparents and 6% a care home. So there is a strong expectation that family, particularly grandparents, should step in those difficult circumstances.

As a prevention charity, part of Mentor’s work involves providing personalised support, information, advice and peer group opportunities for kinship carers and young people they care for. This improves family relationships, builds confidence and helps kinship families be more positively integrated within their local community.

Mentor Ambassador Melanie Onn MP said, “I meet many kinship care families, very often grandparents, and they remain without proper support, struggling to get the financial help they need or the right housing. The role of these unsung champions of children and family should be celebrated through initiatives like Mentor’s Kinship Care Week. Proper help and support networks should be easily available with greater consideration of the quiet retirement people give up to take on the job of being a parent again in their older years.”

Mentor’s Chief Executive, Michael O’Toole said, “This survey data shows a strong expectation from the public that grandparents should take over if parents can no longer care for their children. We already know these families feel isolated and need more support. We have launched Kinship Care Week so we can reach even more kinship carers, ensuring they have access to the advice and support networks that are vital to their wellbeing and success.

“There are so many examples of notable people who grew up in a kinship care family, such as President Obama and John Lennon. But they are all around us in our communities now. Mentor has worked with hundreds of kinship care families to help them access the resources they need and to develop ways in which carers and children can be better supported in the community.”

SOURCE: Mentor

Notes for Editors

1) Mentor UK is the UK’s leading charity working to prevent the misuse of alcohol and drugs among children and young people. They run evidence-based programmes in a variety of settings for different groups of young people. Mentor developed ADEPIS, the leading source of alcohol and drug education resources for schools, and now maintains the CAYT repository of impact studies of evidence-based programmes.

2) A recent survey by UK Market Research showed when parents were asked who would they chose to look after their child/children if they were no longer able to, 73% elected the Grandparents and 6% a care home.

3) Kinship Care Week offers an opportunity to recognise the role of kinship carers, raise awareness of kinship care in the community, and promote best practice among kinship care professionals. The week concludes in a BBC Radio 4 Charity Appeal broadcast, presented by Mentor Ambassador, Baroness Greenfield on Sunday 30 April at 7:55am.

4) In March 2017 Mentor published its revised guidance for kinship carers, A definitive guide to responsibilities, legal rights, financial rights and support. Mentor recently launched the new National Kinship Care website for Scotland, kinship.scot.

5) Mentor is a member of the Kinship Care Alliance, which is led by the Family Rights Group and includes Grandparents Plus. It is a network of voluntary organisations, local authorities and academics working with, or having an interest in, family and friends care.

6) If you wish to interview Mentor CEO Michael O’Toole, email: michael.otoole@mentoruk.org or call 07932 639797 or Jeremy Sare on 07747 727993.