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Children’s care reform: “I spent all my savings and now I can’t retire”: Kinship caretakers’ struggles.

Today, the government is adopting measures to help keep children out of the foster care system, with £45 million budgeted for early intervention for struggling families. However, will this additional assistance be sufficient to reverse this trend?

There was no assistance whatsoever, and I found the first few months, if I’m being completely honest, to be just horrible.”

Sandra, 58, and her four-year-old grandson Sam are feeding ducks.

A few years ago, she was preparing for her retirement, but when Sam’s parents could no longer care for him, she was thrust into the job of primary carer.

Children's care reform: "I spent all my savings and now I can't retire": Kinship caretakers' struggles.

When he was barely 14 months old, he had signs of trauma.

Sam is picked up by Sandra so that he may get a better view of the ducks on the lake. She firmly grasps his hand as she describes how her life has altered.

She declares, “It is extremely dissimilar” “I had intended to retire in five years. I can no longer accomplish any of those things because I’ve used the majority of my savings to raise him.”

Sandra’s expenses include nursery school fees and Sam’s therapy, which was approximate £2,000 per month. She feels unsupported by the social care system and believes that carers in her position should receive greater respect.

“I do not believe I have received any practical assistance or training. “We are not considered in the same light as foster parents who are eligible for an allowance,” explains Sandra.

Last year’s study of the care system revealed that kinship carers, such as grandparents and aunts, were devalued.

Foster care will receive £25 million, but what about family carers?

With £45 million designated for early intervention with struggling families, the government is implementing measures today to boost broader family networks and assist keep children out of the care system.

Additionally, they will provide training and assistance to kinship carers. Foster care would receive a £25 million increase, with a focus on recruiting and retaining foster parents.

With a record number of children in the care system and that number expected to increase, the question is whether this additional assistance for youngsters like Sam will be sufficient to reverse this trend.

According to Kinship, the primary organization assisting thousands of kinship carers on the ground in England and Wales, the government’s revisions are a “seismic moment.”

Dr. Lucy Peake, the chief executive of Kinship, says there is still work to be done to provide a sustainable financial model for the plans, even though she is “delighted” with the progress on this problem.

In a statement, she said, “The government must act urgently because more than three out of ten kinship carers who do not receive the support they need say they may no longer be able to care for the children they love, placing thousands of youngsters at risk of entering the care system.”

Liberal Democrat leader raised by grandparents after the death of his parents

The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, is also among those urging the government to go further.

His party, backed by their education spokesman Munira Wilson, is attempting to submit a bill that would provide kinship carers with the same financial support as foster parents.

Sir Ed himself was partially raised by his grandparents. His father died when he was four years old, and his mother succumbed to cancer when he was fifteen.

The strain placed on his grandparents by the loss of their daughter and the responsibility of parenting him remains with him.

“For my English O-level, I wrote an essay,” he recalls. “All that mattered was how it was. Coming home, with the strain, and knowing what my mother was experiencing,” he pauses, evidently moved with emotion.

“My instructor stated he couldn’t grade it because it was so unfinished… They were all exceptional individuals. This is why relative care is so essential. You do not share this with any other person.

“I’m sure foster parents and adoptive parents are bright and lovely, but preventing kinship parents from doing what they want to do is a grave error,” he says as he wipes away a tear.

Sandra and Sam are returning home from their walk around the lake.

Sam replies, “This way, Nana,” as he moves ahead of his grandma.

“He now has a place to be. “He belongs to a family,” adds Sandra. “This gives him safety, well-being, and a sense of belonging. I believe that belonging is very crucial.”

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