Midlothian grandpa carers get a fairer deal

Midlothian kinship carers at their base in Dalkeith
Midlothian kinship carers at their base in Dalkeith

Local kinship carers have been given a fairer deal by Midlothian Council, but claim they stil don’t get all the benefits that foster carers enjoy.

At last week’s full council meeting, councillors noted that Midlothian is receiving £92,317 in 2015/16 and will get £184,634 per annum thereafter from the Scottish Government to ensure children looked after by relatives continue to get the same support as those placed with foster care families.

Jim Crombie from the charity Dalkeith Midlothian Kinship Carers Group is a full-time carer for his young granddaughters. He told the Advertiser that this parity is just for the general maintenance payment.

He said: “I have been fighting for this for a long time. It’s good news. Level par is fine. But we are also wanting the package that comes along with foster carers.

“It’s like a health package, for any health problems, disabilities, whatever.

“They are so set on foster care in Midlothian they don’t understand that the best place for a child would be in the family circle.

“Failing that foster care is the only option. But they don’t promote kinship care.

“The parity is fine but 
it’s not all about the money. 
It’s about the needs of the child.

“The support package is the main thing for these children.

“The money is fine. The kinship carers get the funding, yes, that’s great. But it’s not really the priority, as they need the package.

“So it’s not really parity with foster carers yet.”

Terry Harkins, secretary and treasurer of the group, cares for his nephew.

He said: “It’s not real parity as none of the support that goes along with it comes to kinship kids. They are using emotional blackmail against kinship carers. Take what you get sort of attitude. We will keep fighting for the package.”

Midlothian pays allowances for 88 kinship carers looking after 134 children. The government money will extend support to those eligible children who are subject to a Section 11 order of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 which from April 2016 will be known as a Kinship Care Order. Introducing Kinship Care Orders is intended to lead to an increase in Kinship Care applications, in turn helping councils across Scotland improve the lives of vulnerable children by keeping them within their own families and communities where possible.

A council spokeswoman said: “Midlothian Council is committed to making sure, wherever possible, children remain in local placements.

“We would only ever approach an Independent Fostering Agency once we have exhausted our own foster care placements, or it is deemed to be in the best interest of the child to look for a placement externally.

“Kinship carers receive the same level of allowance as foster carers, less child benefit. While local support groups include links with national organisation; Mentor and Children 1st , we also have links with workers from children and families. We do value our local kinship carers and the intention is to strengthen our existing links.”