LETTER: Kinship carers deserve equality

As project manager for Kindred Spirits kinship care service, I wish to bring attention on behalf of our members the clear disparity between Kinship carers in Dumfries and Galloway which required the attention of the Tory/SNP councillors on February 7 but was shamefully ignored. Not only was it ignored in the budget, but we were personally ignored when we tried to speak to the Tory/SNP councillors.

We look after our grandchildren, nieces, nephews and the children of friends because these children are unable to live with their natural parents for whatever reason.

It is our contention that for years Dumfries and Galloway Council has discriminated against these children in the most shameful way. For years these children were denied any support despite the fact that D&G Council was their corporate parent. What kind of parenting is that?

I would like to give you an example: two children are taken into care. Both go before a children’s panel and both are placed under a supervision order, section 70. Both have the same legal status. Dumfries and Galloway has the responsibility of corporate parent.

One child is placed in foster care and and the foster parents are immediately provided with a start-up grant to purchase emergency items for the child, and a weekly allowance to provide for the child’s daily needs.

They also receive double allowances for birthdays, holidays and Christmas . As regards Kinship children, they walk away with the clothes they stand in and the allowances are well below that of foster children.

In 2007, it was stated that a minimum weekly allowance of £119-£198 would be paid to Kinship carers, putting them on a par with foster carers.

Dumfries and Galloway Council is still to reach the minimum amount of £119 promised by Adam Ingram in 2007.

A concordat between the Scottish government and Cosla agreed in November 2007 states that by April 2011 local authorities would provide allowances for Kinship carers of “looked after” children to treat them on an equivalent basis to foster carers.

Now in 2013 this is still not happening in Dumfries and Galloway.

GIRFEC 2007 also states that looked-after children would also generate an allowance that would be paid as it is for foster children. Again, this is not happening in Dumfries and Galloway.

In 2008, the Scottish government and local government agreed a concordat “providing allowances for Kinship carers of looked-after children to treat them on an equivalent basis to foster carers”.

Again, there is a clear disparity between Kinship 
and foster carers in Dumfries and Galloway.

In 2009, the Spice Briefing said: “Under 2009 regulations local authorities shall make payment to Kinship carers of looked-after children as they see fit and may also make payments to other Kinship carers under the 1995 act and Children Act 1975”.

To date there is much confusion and disagreement with the authorities that make the polices for Kinship care.

However, from the above statements it is clear that the Scottish government is failing to meet the full needs of children in Kinship care and, therefore, I call on the government and council to support the children and 
their families to rectify the situation and to treat all children in Kinship care on an equitable basis within Dumfries and Galloway.

Tulip Rippingale,

Kindred Spirits,

6 Walltrees Road, Thornhill.