17% of Local Authorities have no published policy on family and friends care

May 11, 2015 10:16 am

Nearly 1 in 5 local authorities failing at the first hurdle on family and friends care

New research released by the Family Rights Group reveals significant failings among English local authorities in their support for family and friend carers:

  • 26 (17%) of English local authorities, including 30% of London local authorities are failing to comply with the most basic requirement of statutory guidance issued in 2011, to have a published policy setting out their approach towards promoting and supporting the needs of children living with family and friend carers.
  • Just 13% of policies indicated that the local authority has a dedicated worker or team to support family and friends carers.
  • Three quarters of local authorities fail to use local demographic and needs data or consult with those partner agencies when drawing up their family and friends care policy and planning of services

The study, entitled ‘Could do better…Must do better‘ also revealed that a third of published policies on family and friends carers made no reference having a senior manager with responsibility for implementation. In 2014, Edward Timpson MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, wrote to all English local authorities with responsibilities for children and families services reminding them that they should have published a friends and family policy.

Family Rights Group is calling for a new legal duty on local authorities to publish a family and friends care policy, and to establish and commission family and friends care support services. Local authorities should also ensure that potential placements with family and friends carers are always explored and assessed before a child enters the care system.

Commenting, Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive of Family Rights Group, said:
“There are more children who cannot live with their parents who are being raised by grandparents and other family and friends carers than there are adopted or in foster care. There carers make huge sacrifices for the vulnerable children they are raising, yet it is a postcode lottery as to what support or help they may get. It is essential therefore that they know what help might be available in their locality.

“Local authorities are dragging their feet. 17% have not even published a policy, despite statutory guidance requiring that they do so by September 2011. Even where policies and services do exist, they often bear no resemblance to the specific and distinct needs of the local population.”

Recent polling commissioned by Family Rights Group also revealed overwhelming public support for greater rights and access to services for family and friends carers. 84% of the public believe that both children who are unable to live with their parents, and their carers, should have the same right to help and support as those who have been adopted.