New Guidance on Kinship Care
Emily Delap, December 2023
Over 153 million children worldwide live in kinship care, meaning they live with extended family or friends because their parents are unable to care for them. Although this type of arrangement is common and often the best option for children, kinship caregivers frequently lack financial assistance, parenting advice, health services and other critical support. We are proud to have contributed to a new set of guidance developed to help governments, donors, and charities improve support for family members and close friends serving as caregivers.
Spearheaded by the network Family for Every Child, these practical recommendations offer advice on strengthening assistance for kinship families. They provide policymakers and program managers with advice on how to support caregivers while also improving safety and support for the children in their care. The guidance makes the case for greater investment in kinship care, highlighting how caregivers (who are often elderly) may struggle financially and face challenges in parenting children traumatized by the separation from their parents. Details are provided on how to back kinship care more effectively, as many policymakers and practitioners lack an understanding of the unique needs.
To develop the guidance, we conducted interviews with policymakers and practitioners across 25 countries and supported consultations with 196 children and 215 kinship caregivers. Recognizing the guidelines would only drive change if viewed as legitimate and relevant, we supported Family to take an inclusive, collaborative approach. This involved partnering with 16 organizations throughout the drafting process and arranging reviews from more than 30 agencies working across child protection and alternative care. Agencies working in low, middle and high-income contexts were purposefully approached to ensure diverse perspectives. Supporters included UNICEF, Save the Children, and SOS Children’s Villages, along with specialized care agencies like the Better Care Network and Hope. Smaller national NGOs with frontline kinship care experience such as FOST in Zimbabwe and ACER in Brazil were also engaged.
Building a collaborative process has brought multiple benefits to the guidance. Some of the key stakeholders who contributed to the content are keen to carry on working together. And we've also built connections with academia and have been invited to speak at important conferences. We’re also delighted to see the guidance inform policy in countries as diverse as Zimbabwe and Ireland. This reinforces our belief that this new guidance can finally transform support for the largely unsupported yet vital kinship caregiver heroes across the globe. The guidance will be published on [add date] and can be found here [add website]. We have already shared learning from the guidance with policymakers and practitioners as part of UNICEF’s Regional learning platform on care reform which we also support.