The Scottish Government are carrying out a consultation on how education is run: who should make decisions about the education of children and young people and how can funding of education be made fairer. They want to hear views from every part of Scotland, and have asked Mentor to share this review with parents and carers, and children and young people, especially those in kinship care.
Having supported kinship carers for a number of years, we can clearly see that while they have been through the mill and face continuous struggles they are an inspiration. They have many hidden talents and their experiences and learning is in abundance. That is why we feel that they are the best people to support other kinship carers within their community.
We at Mentor are looking to form an advisory group of kinship carers from across Scotland to help feed into developments of kinship care work going forward, locally and nationally. We feel it is important that we listen to the needs and experiences of kinship carers and support them to have a voice within the community and with the Scottish Government.
The Scottish Government has funded kinship care information, advice and support services for several years. During that time, there have been a number of changes for kinship care families across Scotland, which mean that their support needs may have changed too.
Mentor is the lead partner in a new kinship care programme run by Big Hearts Community Trust that seeks to use "the power of the club's crest" to support kinship care families in Edinburgh and beyond. The scheme will run a weekly after-school club for children offering football coaching, music tuition and other activities, and a support group for carers providing information, advice and peer support.
Mentor Scotland has been awarded £488,614 by the Big Lottery Investing in Communities fund to continue its work with kinship care families in Scotland. Over the next three years 500 families across three regions will have access to a range of targeted support, and Mentor can expand their work supporting kinship carers for another three years.
The Families Together team came together to help a kinship care family who are forced to hurriedly move into a new house in desperate need of refurbishment. In one hectic weekend, the Families Together project manager Liz and Family Support Worker Yvonne rallied the support of the community to enable the family to start their new life with a fresh lick of paint.
The Department for Education (DfE) announced the outcome of the VCS National Prospectus 2015-16 on 25 March 2015, which included a proposal for an Early Help Model for Kinship Care, submitted by a consortium of organisations led by Grandparents Plus, with contributions from Mentor, 4Children and the Childhood Bereavement Network (part of the National Children's Bureau).
Marion Inglis, a family support worker at Mentor working with kinship carers as part of the Families Together project, shares her experience introducing a recently referred child to our weekly youth group for children in kinship care.