Ed Balls also announced today more recognition for the important role grandparents play in family life. By providing emotional and practical support for children and families, grandparents can be particularly important in providing stability when parents are separating.
The Green Paper sets out plans to ensure that children’s centres are accessible and welcoming to all those who care for children, including grandparents. The Government is launching a new dedicated website for grandparents ‘BeGrand’ to offer tips and advice on getting involved in their grandchildren’s lives, including online advisors, a directory of services and peer support.
New support for grandparents during family breakdown includes:
*Simplifying the legal process by removing the requirement to apply for the court’s permission before making an application for contact with their grandchildren
*Improving information about the legal and other options available so they can maintain relationships with their grandchildren when parents separate.
Kinship carers – including grandparents - take on the care of their grandchildren when the parents are unable to, for example if they have drug, alcohol or mental health problems.
New measures to help kinship carers in this situation include:
*Strengthening the National Minimum Standards for foster carers so that family and friends foster carers receive training, development and financial support in line with other foster carers but which recognises their particular needs and circumstances.
*Giving local authorities statutory guidance on how to treat and interact with carers in this situation
*Producing a support pack for relatives who are caring for children because of a parents drug or alcohol misuse
*Exploring with stakeholders the types of problems and difficulties faced by families and friend carers if they have to go to court to secure their care of a child. We will also explore the complexity of the support available to them and how to help them access the support they need.
Ed Balls said:
“We want to support strong and stable families and help families help themselves. Grandparents are often the unsung heroes when it comes to informal care arrangements for children and young people. They play an invaluable role for millions of families, helping to bring up children and also helping working families balance work and family life and stepping in when things go wrong.
“By giving families and grandparents the right information and advice they can remain in control over how and when to access help and support when they are under pressure and their relationships are suffering. It’s time they receive the recognition they deserve.
“Removing the barriers that grandparents face in courts, when they wish to see their grandchildren through times of divorce and separation will relieve an enormous burden currently placed on grandparents.
“Often when parents separate, grandparents are a valuable source of support for children and young people, providing them with the stability they need during difficult and emotional times.”
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