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Kinship carers being penalised

At a time when they would normally be enjoying a more relaxed lifestyle, many grandparents can instead find themselves bringing up young, energetic children. We believe kinship care is the best option when children cannot be looked after by their parents, but it is essential that kinship carers are fully supported in their role.

We support the Government's acknowledgement of the need for more help for kinship carers. But the new weekly carer's allowance is only available to those caring for children legally deemed to be "looked after", which leaves hundreds of people caring for younger relatives who are ineligible for any financial support.

We want to see a non-means tested allowance for all kinship carers so that relatives who take on a caring role are not financially penalised.

As well as financial support, there is also a need for more emotional and practical measures, including strengthening of local support groups, voluntary training, advice and information, and respite opportunities.

We would also like to see more research into how best to support children in kinship care placements, including research into the benefits of befriending, peer support groups and teacher training.

Anne Houston, chief executive, Children 1st, Whitehouse Loan, Edinburgh.

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