1 in 10 children around the world live with their grandparents, aunts, uncles or other relatives instead of their birth parents. This is known as ‘kinship care’ and provides lots of benefits for children, families and the rest of society, too. In fact, kinship care is children’s preferred alternative care option. 

Unfortunately, it is rarely supported by governments around the world. Although it keeps families together and provides better outcomes than institutional care, resources are scarce or non-existent.

At Family, we believe this situation needs to change. That’s why we’re campaigning for those in power to provide better support for kinship care by improving processes and removing barriers that prevent children and families from getting the help that could change their lives for the better, forever.

Here, we share stories from three local organisations that are driving change for kinship care families in their communities around the world.

Supporting grandparent carers in New Zealand

In New Zealand, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (GRG) supports over 9,000 grandparents and 16,000 children to settle into a new family arrangement following the breakdown of the parent–child relationship. We worked with GRG to share their excellent work so others can learn from their experience in supporting grandparents caring for grandchildren.

GRG believes that when caregivers have the right knowledge and resources, they can provide the safe, loving homes and security that children need to thrive. The organisation helps grandparents to access state financial assistance and facilitates community support groups. As more than 60% of the children GRG supports have been adversely affected by trauma, the group also delivers a trauma-informed education programme to help grandparents support the children in their care. As well as providing this direct assistance to those in need, GRG’s advocacy work has led to changes in national law so that kinship families now receive better support, enabling improvements to their well-being.

Keeping families together in Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, 60% of orphans and vulnerable children are cared for by grandparents, but the old age, poor health and financial insecurity of their carers can leave them in precarious situations. Our local alliance members at the Farm Orphan Support Trust (FOST) recognise this, and help them to live well through income and psychosocial support, access to education and community strengthening activities. 

Over 400 families benefit from this assistance, leading to an increased average monthly income, food security for caregivers and children, and improved care by Child Protection Committees in local communities  Our research on kinship care in Zimbabwe has even led to a government review of their alternative care for children policy. Together, this support is transforming thousands of lives for the better.

Keeping extended families together in Brazil

Through our alliance members in Brazil, Associação Brasileira Terra dos Homens (ABTH), we work on both the prevention of children’s separation from families, and the reintegration of children back into families from life on the street, in shelters or in foster care. The organisation works with 100 families every month to help prevent family separation. Where children and families are already separated, it helps them come back together where it is appropriate to do so. 

To give children the best chance of being able to grow up in extended family care, ABTH uses a specialist process of family mapping to understand complex family relationships and identify potential caregivers. This is just one way they help children to live happier lives as part of a safe and caring family environment where they can thrive.

Learn more about our campaign to influence those in power to better support kinship care.

Read more articles from Family Matters August 2021