Barnsley Council has teamed up with the national charity, Grandparents Plus to deliver targeted support for special guardians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the council’s membership, special guardians can access specialist services, peer support and one-to-one advice for free until May 2021. The scheme has been funded by the Adoption Support Fund – a central government initiative to support adoptive parents and special guardians.
A special guardian is someone with a court order to look after a relative or friend’s children, for example, a grandmother raising her grandchildren. Kinship Response is a scheme delivered by the charity to provide dedicated support to special guardians across Barnsley. The package was developed in response to acknowledging the need for additional support, raised by the charity’s community of kinship carers, throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
Like all parents, special guardians will be worried about their children’s mental and physical needs during the current crisis, but have additional challenges such as complex dynamics with birth parents and limited contact with other people who share their situation. Kinship Response helps registered families to access specialist services which can help with managing children at home, communication with birth parents, and practicalities like digital confidence and financial support. The scheme also connects carers in their local area through peer groups, as well as one-to-one emotional and practical support from a dedicated support worker.
Cllr Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for Children’s Services, said: “We’re working hard during this time to support families who have specific concerns and needs. We’re proud to join forces with Grandparents Plus – their network and expert knowledge means we can play our part in supporting kinship carers throughout the pandemic.
“We recognise the commitment that special guardians make when they choose to look after children whose parents are unable to care for them, for whatever reason. From sacrificing their relationships, jobs and savings, they truly do whatever it takes to look after the children they love. Whether you’re a grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle or family friend, we recommend that you sign up for the support available, free of charge, to help you through these challenging times.”
Kate O’Brien, Grandparents Plus Director of Business Development and Programmes, said: “Special guardians have specific concerns and needs at this time. Coronavirus is putting them and their families under more pressure, from increased health concerns, looking after children at home, increased isolation due to limited digital confidence, and reduced access to local peer support. Many special guardians are in the vulnerable age range and are scared about what might happen to their families if they get ill.
“They need tailored advice, practical resources and support from people they trust, which is why we are delighted that the backing of Barnsley Council means that we are able to offer them just that.”
Residents can access the dedicated support by completing an online form or by calling (freephone) 0300 033 9851.