Just over a quarter of children in foster care (27%) live with a relative or friend. The 10,000 Voices insight paper – the views of children in kinship foster care on their well-being explores their experience of care.
The findings reinforce existing evidence that living with family and friends can be a positive experience for children who cannot remain with their birth parent.
- Most reported moderate to high well-being. About one in nine young people (11-18yrs) rated themselves as having low well-being in comparison with one in seven in unrelated foster care.
- The kinship young people also reported more positively that the things they did in life were worthwhile.
- Some children were anxious about the future and concerned that their carer might die soon, leaving them alone.
- Larger proportions in kinship foster care compared with those in unrelated foster care had contact with family members and felt their contact arrangements were ‘just right’.
- However, there were also those that reported that they felt unsafe or unhappy with seeing family members.
- A higher proportion reported that they had a good friend, compared with those in unrelated foster care. But, fewer had opportunities to have a pet.
- Children in kinship foster care also reported more positively on confiding in carers regularly, feeling they had a trusted adult in their lives.
- In comparison with peers of the same age in the general population, a larger percentage of those in kinship care liked school ‘a lot/a bit’ and felt their carers were interested in what they did at school.
- One in four reported being afraid to go to school because of bullying, compared to with one in six of their peers.
- In comparison with foster care, a higher percentage in kinship foster care disliked their bedrooms and there were complaints of overcrowding.
- There were also children in kinship foster care who talked about their carers having financial difficulties
- While there were examples of very good relationships with social workers, relationships with social workers were complicated. Some felt the worker was only visiting to support their carer, and some did not know they had a social worker.
- As reported for all children in care, those in kinship care also did not know their right to speak to their social worker in private and many did not always feel included in decision-making or know why they were in care.
- It was surprising that only half of those aged 11-18yrs were placed directly with their kinship carer. More than a third (35%) had lived in 2-4 previous placements, and nearly one in ten (9%) had five or more placements before moving in with their kinship carer.