Newham tops kinship care list

Newham has the highest number of children being brought up by relatives, according to a study.

The study, by children’s charity Buttle UK and the University of Bristol, reveals for the first time the number of children being brought up by a relative instead of their mother or father.

It found that London has the highest rates of kinship care in the UK, with two in every 100 children brought up by a relative. Four out of the five local authorities with the highest prevalence rates in the UK were in the capital, led by Newham where approximately four in every 100 children (4.1 per cent) were being raised by relatives. Tower Hamlets had a rate of 3.6 per cent, Lambeth 3.3 per cent and Haringey 3.1 per cent.

97 per cent of these ‘kinship’ arrangements were informal agreements between parents and relatives, and carers were therefore not entitled to financial support from social services. Poverty was a recurrent feature; kinship families across England were twice as likely to live in the poorest areas of the country.

The study, ‘Spotlight on Kinship Care’ is the first to quantify the number of children being looked after by family members in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and is based on data from the 2001 Census. It shows that around 173,200 children were being raised by family members because their parents were unable to care for them.

Buttle UK is now calling on local authorities with responsibility for children’s services to use the study to inform their Families and Friends Care policies due in September 2011.