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10. Effective practice when working with children in kinship care

  • There has been a general increase in the use of kinship care over the last decade with around 20% of looked after children now in kinship placements in Scotland. Kinship care offers the possibility of continuity of relationships and consideration should be given to it wherever a child cannot remain in parental care.
  • However, not all kinship placements will be successful and there is little current evidence that kinship care will, other things being equal, lead to better overall outcomes for children than unrelated foster care.
  • Effective assessment of and support to kinship carers, including financial support, are crucial components of successful kinship care. Research has identified gaps in social work practice in respect of both. Local authorities need to develop a clear, understandable and consistent strategy for assessing and working with kinship carers.
  • It has been suggested that a two stage model of assessing kinship care may be needed. In the first stage, assessment of a potential kinship placement is undertaken at short notice, considering the immediate safety of the children who may be placed there. In the second stage, more thorough assessment of the potential of the placement to meet the children’s needs takes place as soon as practicable afterwards.

    Aldgate and McIntosh, 2006; Hunt et al, 2008; Burgess et al, 2010; Scottish Government, 2010b