John calls for grandparent carers to be given more support

John has called for grandparent carers to be given the same recognition and support as foster carers and people who adopt.

Relatives – many of them grandparents – who raise children who can no longer live with their parents are known as ‘kinship’ or family carers.

Dearne MP John Healey has been calling for better recognition and backing for several months, and has helped a grandparent carer from Wath set up a South Yorkshire support group.

Speaking to the minister for children and families in Parliament yesterday (19 January), Mr Healey said:

“Most grandparents who take on the formal responsibility of raising their grandkids just want to keep them in the family, but taking on full-time caring in their 50s or 60s can come at a high price, often without any proper recognition.

“Does the Minister agree that much of the same recognition and support that is available for foster carers and adopting parents really ought to be there for grandparents who take on this role?”

Responding, Edward Timpson MP said he agreed and recognised there was a need to do more. He said:

“I do agree that we need to ensure that where grandparents take on what is a huge responsibility, often through the kindness of their hearts—and which has a huge effect on their own lives—we should ensure that it has every chance of being a success, not just for them but, most importantly, for the children they are caring for.

“Whether it is to do with pay and conditions or more holistic support, we need to ensure that the whole-family approach, which the legislation we recently introduced tried to articulate and embed, has a chance to flourish more in future. I believe there is a recognition across the House that we need to do more.”

Karen MacGregor, from Wath, is a grandparent carer who has helped set up the ‘Kinkids’ support group and a fundraising shop in Swinton.

She said: “People need to realise we are saving councils thousands and thousands of pounds. I’m not saying we should get the same money as foster carers but we need the same rights, support and access to social services.

“We don’t get anything. I know people who have lost their homes and their relationships because they’re a kin carer. Some look after several children. Some have to fight social services to keep the children to start off with.”

National charity Grandparents Plus say up to 300,000 children are living with 200,000 grandparents and wider family members, and that this is saving the taxpayer £12 billion in care costs each year alone.