More than a third of grandparents who look after their grandchildren full-time to prevent them being taken into care live below the poverty line.
Research found that 38 per cent of “grandparent carers” live on less than £200 a week, below the poverty line of £235, while a further third live on less than £300 a week. There are estimated to be about 200,000 grandparent carers who, together, save local authorities millions of pounds each year by keeping children out of foster and residential care. Each child in the care system costs about £40,000 a year.
This sort of “kinship” care is greatly preferred by many social workers to foster or residential care. It is less disruptive for the child, who can move into a home they know and with people who already love them. It is also far more stable than foster or residential care, which often breaks down.
Grandparents are increasingly a formal part of the care system, with the courts ratifying the arrangements as residency agreements or special guardianships. However, councils are under no obligation to offer financial assistance, despite the considerable additional cost to often-retired grandparents of raising children.