With an estimated 1 in 10 children around the world living with their extended family because they cannot live with their parents, kinship care is the most-used alternative care option. 

For governments, it’s a win-win situation – children often prefer it, it often provides better outcomes, and families often provide kinship care for free. Additionally, the public profile of kinship care is so low that it is easy for governments to ignore, in the hope that kinship care families will simply struggle in silence as a result of duty and love.

However, support is crucial if governments are to meet their obligations to ensure that children are well cared for. Our report ‘The Paradox of Kinship Care’ talks about how poverty, lack of access to services, and abuse and neglect that push many children into kinship care suggest that these children are likely to be more vulnerable than the general population, and that caregivers need assistance to enable the boys and girls they care for to reach their full potential.

The risks to children living in kinship care differ from family to family and child to child, but there is an opportunity for governments to provide a well-rounded package of support that could make a real difference to the lives of both children and their carers. Given that kinship care invariably saves the state huge amounts of money in comparison to foster care or state-run institutions, this money would not only be well-spent, but it would be possible to do so while still providing value for money for government funds.

At Family for Every Child, we’re conducting a number of projects related to kinship care. Amongst those are our national and regional advocacy work, led by local Changemaker organisations that form our global alliance, as well as our ‘It’s Time to Support Kinship Care’ communications campaign. Through these, we are calling on governments to deliver a full package of support that includes psychosocial, financial, educational, and child protection services and support. Social workers should have the flexibility to tailor support packages to particular needs.

With the right support in place, kinship care could be even more effective at supporting children who are unable to live with their parents the chance at a brighter future as part of their extended family. It’s time to demand that governments ignore it no longer, and to stand in solidarity with the carers that often do so much with little or no support. 

If you work with children and families and would like to join our call for better support for kinship care, join our online community of Changemakers and connect with us. Visit changemakers.community to sign up now.

Learn more about our kinship care work at familyforeverychild.org/kinshipcare.