Kent

Grandmother wants same support as foster carer

A Kent grandmother who is bringing up her two grandchildren wants to receive the same support as foster parents.

Laura Warner, from Gillingham, has custody of her grandchildren and is known as a kinship carer.

In Kent, weekly financial support for foster parents can be £326 greater than that for kinship carers.

The Department for Education (DfE) said there was a range of financial support for those who cared for relatives' children.

This included child benefit, working families tax credit and income support, depending on their circumstances, it said.

'Not a choice'

Mrs Warner said: "I defy anyone that says the child benefit and any tax credits you're entitled to is enough to bring up a child you've not accounted for.

"It's very easy for someone to say 'well it's your choice to have that child' but it's not a choice.

"We want to hold our family unit together, we want these children to remain safe."

Mrs Warner has joined a campaign, which is led by the charity Grandparent Plus, for people looking after relatives' children to receive the same financial and social support as foster carers.

In Kent, foster parents can receive a maximum of £406 per week while kinship carers are only eligible for up to £80 per week in benefits.

Sarah Wellard, from Grandparent Plus, said: "Their [kinship carers] children are just the same as children in foster care, they've been through very similar kinds of difficulties - drug and alcohol abuse with parents, parents in prison, parents dying - and yet the carers are treated completely differently."

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