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The Government defines kinship care as “any situation in which a child is being raised in the care of a friend or family member who is not their parent.”

The 2021 Census estimated around 141,000 children were living in kinship care in England and Wales (1.1% of all children).

There are several types of kinship care arrangement, including private informal arrangements, kinship foster care, child arrangement orders and special guardianship orders. The type of arrangement can affect the support available.


Several themes emerge from recent reports on kinship care, including:

  • Kinship care does not get the recognition it deserves.
  • Children growing up in kinship care do better than children in unrelated foster care, but worse than children in the general population. This applies to emotional, behavioural and education outcomes.
  • Not enough is currently done to involve and support a child’s wider family network before they enter local authority care.
  • The support provided to kinship carers, including financial, legal, practical and emotional, is not sufficient. There is also considerable variation between areas in the support available.

Government strategy for children’s social care reform in England

In February 2023, the Government published an implementation strategy and consultation on children’s social care reform in England, Stable Homes, Built on Love. This formed the Government’s response to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, which reported in May 2022.

Proposals related to kinship care included:

  • Publishing a kinship care strategy by the end of 2023.
  • Providing £9 million for a training and support offer for kinship carers.
  • Exploring the case for mandating a financial allowance for kinship carers with a special guardianship order or child arrangements order.
  • Exploring workplace entitlements for kinship carers.

The strategy also set out a working definition of kinship care for consultation.

As part of broader reforms, the Government will also pilot how to better involve and support the wider family network prior to children entering the care system.

More information on the Government’s proposals for the wider reform of children’s care is provided in a separate briefing: Government proposals for children’s social care reform.

Kinship care strategy

On 15 December 2023, the Government published its kinship care strategy for England, Championing Kinship Care. The strategy commits £20 million in 2024/25 to improve the lives of children in kinship care. Its commitments include:

While the strategy’s publication was welcomed, concerns have been raised that it does not go far enough in several areas.  

Social security benefits

The main social security benefits which may be available to kinship carers are Child Benefit, Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Guardian’s Allowance. Further information is provided in section two of the briefing.

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