Young and *care-full*: Young kinship carers research project

The other kinship carers
Meredith Kiraly
University of Melbourne
Centre for Excellence in Child & Family Welfare
ACWA Conference, Sydney, August 2014
Kinship care – a few definitions
Kinship care
‘Kith and kin care’: Care within the family or
friendship network of the child.
Grandparent care Kinship care provided by grandparents.
kinship care
Kinship care provided by an unrelated person who
is well-known to the child, such as a family friend.
In Australia, also sometimes called ‘kith care’.
Informal kinship
Kinship care that has been arranged privately
between parents and caregivers.
Statutory (formal) Protective care where abuse has been
substantiated by Child Protection, provided in an
authorised setting such as kinship care, foster care
or residential care.
Australian foster care and protective kinship care
Foster care
Kinship care
What matters to children’s wellbeing?
‘ “Permanence” for children means “security, stability,
love and a strong sense of identity and belonging”.
The weight of evidence, from all quarters, convinces us
that the relationships with people who care for and
about children are the golden thread in children’s
The quality of a child’s relationships is the lens through
which we should view what we do and plan to do.’
(The Care Inquiry, 2013,UK)
‘We know what is valued by children, young
people and adults who have been in care...They value
relationships with people who:
are always there for them
love, accept and respect them for who they are
are ambitious for them and help them succeed
stick with them through thick and thin
are willing to go the extra mile
treat them as part of their family, or part of their life,
beyond childhood and into adulthood.’
(The Care Inquiry, 2013,UK)
National Framework for Protecting
Australia’s Children
Council of Australian Governments, 2009
A significant focus on grandparent care and kinship care more
‘Support grandparent, foster and kinship carers to provide safe and
stable care.’
National Research Agenda for Protecting Children 2011-2014
‘Kinship care: What does—and should—guide decisions on kinship
placements for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children and
young people? What are the potential risks and benefits? What are the
needs of kinship carers and how are they best supported? What are
the outcomes for children and young people in kinship care?’
Senate Inquiry into Grandparents raising
grandchildren 2014:
Terms of Reference included:
• Practical challenges & support needs
• How to better acknowledge and recognise the
contribution of grandparent families
• Practical measures to provide better support.
Spotlight on kinship care
• 38% of children in kinship care in England were being cared for
by a sibling carer without help from older household members.
• About 28% of sibling carers were born outside the UK.
• Over half the brothers were partnered (60%).
• Most (93%) sister carers were single. 43% had no qualifications.
• Most sibling carers were parenting more than one child (avge 2).
• 19% of sibling carer households were overcrowded.
• Most were either unemployed or in low paid occupations.
Young kinship carers
I think Richard finds it extremely hard now …they have a
really good relationship but there are times when Richard
doesn’t want to discipline him any more. He just wants to
be his big brother and have fun with him. (Big Bruv Little Sis)
Big Bruv Little Sis research project
Roth, Lindley et al. (2011).
Family Rights Group, London
• Literature review
• Internet survey
• Interviews
On the day that my Dad died I had a
phone call from my sister…I told the children
to get some stuff and come to my house. On
the way I spoke to my Mum on the
phone…and she hung up on me and then she
texted me saying “I don’t want them –
you look after them”.
(Big Bruv Little Sis)
Big sister
When Mum was alive I used to always go over there and
take them gifts and they just remembered me as a loving
sister, but when I took them on I became a terrible
monster! I was really stressed out with a lot of things.
We’ve had a lot of tears, a lot of arguments.
I’ll get “You’re my sister, not my mother, you can’t tell me
that.”…now it’s not as bad as it was….I’m still learning
every day how to deal with my sisters….It was me on my
own for such a long time and then to have two young
girls, everything just changed. (Big Bruv Little Sis)
Non-familial kinship care
I think it is a bit more complex for those
who are not family – such as myself
(Carer previously fostered child’s sister)
Family Links
Kith and kin care – who are the ‘kith’?
Definition of Kith: people with a pre-existing
relationship with a child prior to placement
(otherwise known as family friends).
Breakdown rate may be higher than kin (family)
care. (Sallnas 2004, Perry 2012).
In a survey of statutory kinship carers in Victoria
one-fifth (20%) of respondents were kith carers
(Family Links: Kiraly, Humphreys and Hoadley 2012).
Mother of child’s friend
This experience has been great, I never planned
to be a carer. But having met the young lady on
many occasions before she picked us to stay
with made a big difference in her fitting in with
our family. We are lucky, she is a lovely young
lady and we are happy to support her for as long
as she needs. Family Links
Family friend?
The young person was someone who lived in the
area. I only knew her to say hello to, before she
became homeless and then moved in with me.
Family Links
The research projects
Young and ‘care-full’:
The support needs of
young kinship carers
• Identify young kinship carers
(under 30) in Victoria/ Australia.
• Estimate prevalence of young
carers through Census data.
• Explore carers’ characteristics and
support needs.
• Alert policymakers and
community to the issues.
• Inform the development of more
comprehensive research.
It takes a village:
The support needs of
non-familial kinship carers
• Explore the characteristics and
support needs of non-familial
kinship carers.
• Alert policymakers and
community support services to
the issues.
Research methods
Young and ‘care-full’
It takes a village
• Census analysis.
• Survey – Victoria.
• Survey – Australia-wide
• Interviews with support
workers, non-familial
kinship carers and young
people age 18+.
• Interviews with young carers
and young people age 18+.
• Focus groups: staff of kinship,
youth & multicultural
support services.
• Focus groups with kinship
care support staff.
• Further funding applications needed.
• Projects report mid-2015.
Kith care – the current survey
 I was a Teacher’s Aide with child 1. Because of suicidal
issues I gave her my contact details if she needed to chat.
One day DHS contacted me and asked if I would care for
the 3 siblings, I said probably and had the kids 2 hours
 I work as a chaplain at a Secondary College and the
young person needed somewhere to live. I offered for
the young person to stay with me until something more
permanent could be sorted, she has now been
with us all most 5 years.
Australian Bureau of Statistics
2011 census data
3,515 households:
Reference Person <16 years older than
oldest ‘other related’ U15 child (eg siblings, nephew/niece)
• So ‘parent figure’ is under age 30.
9,557 households:
Reference Person 60+, U15 grandchildren or
‘other related’ U15 children (nephew/niece, great-nephew/niece)
Australian Bureau of Statistics
2011 census data
6,895 households:
Child 15-17 related as sibling to Reference
persons <16 years older.
7,882 households:
Child 15-17 related as sibling
to Reference persons all ages.
The challenge of Young and ‘care-full’
• How to find young carers?
• Survey publicity and promotion will be
the biggest challenge
• Can you help?
Discussion welcome, more information available.
Meredith Kiraly:
[email protected]
Young and ‘care-full’
Roth, D., B. Lindley, et al. (2011). Big
Bruv Little Sis: Research findings on
sibling carers raising their younger
sisters and brothers. London, Family
Rights Group.
Nandy, S., J. Selwyn, et al. (2011).
Spotlight on kinship care: Using
Census microdata to examine the
extent and nature of kinship care
in the UK at the turn of the
Twentieth century. Bristol,
University of Bristol.
‘It takes a village’
Sallnas, M., B. Vinnerljung, et al.
(2004). Breakdown of teenage
placements in Swedish foster and
residential care. Child and Family
Social Work 9: 141-152.
Perry, G., M. Daly, et al. (2012).
Placement stability in kinship and
non-kin foster care: A Canadian
study. Children and Youth Services
Review 34: 460-465.

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