The most recent estimates of kinship care in the UK are based on the 2001 Census (Nandy, Selwyn, Farmer & Vaisey, 2011). Consequently, policy makers and practitioners lack a current evidence base that details the prevalence and characteristics of kinship care, to inform policy formation, policy implementation and effective resource allocation. Therefore the main aim of this project is to analyse microdata from the 2011 Census to provide nationally representative, reliable statistics and maps on the distribution and characteristics of kinship care households in the four countries of the UK. It also aims to work directly with various stakeholders ((including kin carers, children in kinship care, policymakers at various levels, ministers, academics, office of the children’s commissioner, practitioners and third sector organisations such as the Family Rights group, Grandparents Plus and the Child Poverty Action Group) to understand different perspectives on kinship care.
The key objectives are as follows:
1. From a child and family welfare perspective, to improve the academic, policy, practitioner and public understanding of kinship families in the UK by a) establishing the current prevalence, distribution, characteristics and predictors of kinship care households in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and b) creating spatial maps of the distribution of kinship households.
2. From a policy and practice perspective, to a) explore how policies on kinship care have evolved in the long-term and identify the gaps in policy, implementation and support provision and b) to use the new knowledge emerging from the secondary analyses to facilitate critical reflections from a range of stakeholders on the future social, economic and policy priorities of kinship care.
3. From an academic perspective, to a) contribute to the scholarly and policy debates on kinship care; changing family dynamics and structures; and child poverty and b) to promote secondary data analyses in social work research in the UK, which is currently an under-utilised methodology
4. From a knowledge exchange perspective, to a) work in collaboration with stakeholders through the establishment of a stakeholder advisory group at the outset of the project and b) create a user-friendly, publicly accessible, policy relevant website to disseminate the results of the study, which will incorporate multiple platforms of social media to enable wide dissemination.
This study will be conducted in two phases, over three years (Ocotber 2014-October 2017) and is led by Dinithi Wijedasa, who has been awarded the funding through an ESRC Future Research Leaders Grant.