David Pitcher, editor and contributor of the new JKP book Inside Kinship Care shares how he hopes this book will help and support families dealing with the difficulties that can arise with kinship care arrangements and widen the debate on this often overlooked process.
‘With kinship care, everyone gains. Or they can do.
I have in front of me a letter written by a mum with whom I have been working, whose daughter Jenny [not her real name] has just been placed with her nan after a long court process:
“Mum, you know how much I appreciate your commitment, and the effort you have put into getting Jenny to come into your care. I don’t want you to feel like you are taking Jenny away from me. I know you will give her all the love and attention she needs, as you are a fantastic mum to me, and I know you will be a great mum to Jenny. She is very lucky to have a nan like you. I am sorry for all this mess and I hope one day to make you proud…”
In Jenny’s case, a crisis that might have led to the break-up of a family had in fact brought it closer. As Jenny grows up, she will learn about the way that family, and her family’s love for her, is very wide.
It is heartening to see how, over the last fifteen years, kinship care has been recognised and is gaining fuller recognition as part of government policy. When I did my first study of it in Plymouth in 1999, it was not nearly so well understood as it is now.
The truth is however, that kinship care can also be difficult and complicated. As a Children’s Guardian, I see this every day. As family relationships are realigned, tensions can increase and old difficulties can re-emerge.
I remember waking up in the early hours of the morning and writing a proposal for this book. I had just attended a conference at which the positive aspects of kinship care had been [quite rightly] emphasised. Politicians and policy makers had been present, and this emphasis was needed. However, I know that unless a more rounded picture could be developed, it would not be fair to families who experience difficulties with kinship care. The rhetoric would ultimately not ring true, either for family members or for professionals working with real cases.
The aim of this book is to deepen the discussion about kinship care by addressing many of the issues which arise in the real world, but which – although we see them every day in practice – are curiously absent from the literature.
I hope that each chapter will be a launch pad for further discussion, debate [including disagreement!!] and research, and for developing our understanding of families.’
Inside Kinship Care is now available to order from the JKP website.