Press release: CFAB Response to the Department for Education’s Kinship Strategy
Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB) has responded to the Department for Education’s Kinship Strategy which was published today, 15th December 2023.
CFAB welcomes the DfE’s commitment to integrating kinship care within children’s Social Care. We know that children are more likely to thrive and fulfil their potential in the care of family and friends rather than remaining in the care system. We hope to see international kinship care considered in the guidance that will follow this strategy. Currently, we are concerned about the notable exclusion of international kinship care and how children and carers of such placements will access these new commitments.
An increase in the use of kinship care whether domestically or internationally - when in the best interest of the child - provides cost savings for the government both in the short and long terms, and research shows that children have better life outcomes when with family than in unrelated foster care, so future state intervention is less likely.
Carolyn Housman, CEO of CFAB said, “We welcome the Department for Education’s commitment to integrating kinship care within children’s social care and, in particular, its focus on supporting social workers to engage positively with different cultures. The principle to ensure all children should have the opportunity to be cared for by family exists whether they are in the UK or not. It will be vital that Government offers clearer guidance in 2024 about how to support kinship carers who currently reside or move overseas. With one in three children born in England to a foreign-born parent, it is clear that our systems must consider and provide guidance on the international movement of families.”
The Department for Education’s statistics demonstrates that there are now 80,850 children in care in England – and CFAB estimates that 18,500 of these children have family members abroad who could potentially care for them.
We welcome the DfE’s ambition to more sensitively support kinship carers with different cultures by ensuring the Early Career Framework upskills social workers to understand strengths-based and relationship-based work with families from different cultural or religious backgrounds. Our Cultural Family Life Library remains available to current and future social workers who want to learn more about families with different cultural heritage.
We look forward to working with the DfE to update the Family and Friends Care guidance, now to be called Kinship Care: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities, to ensure that the new culture of focusing on families first includes family members residing overseas.
The DfE has noted that a “regular and reliable financial allowance for kinship carers will help to reduce the number of children in kinship care growing up in poverty and remove barriers to kinship carers providing stable, loving homes”. We welcome guidance from DfE on how a financial allowance could apply to kinship carers who plan to or are currently residing overseas, as we estimate this will be relevant for approximately one-third of children in care currently.
CFAB’s International Legal Advice Service exists to support local authorities and courts to understand how different legal orders will apply in overseas jurisdictions. We hope to be able to give input to the Law Commission review of legal orders for kinship carers, particularly for those orders used to place children with family overseas to ensure they are able to receive on-par support with children who are placed domestically.
Maria Brul, CFAB Policy and Public Affairs Manager