Poverty can have a stark impact on those on the edge of care, shows research published by One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) today.
The new report – which was supported by The Promise Scotland – highlights the potential impacts poverty may have on a family’s ability to stay together.
Once a child is in care, a family may find themselves in very challenging financial circumstances. In some cases, financial supports were almost immediately cut off at the point when a child was removed from the care of their birth parent.
Poverty-Proofing For Families in or on the Edges of Care is based on research by OPFS with Child Poverty Action Group, with The Promise Scotland providing advice and support.
It comes at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is acute for children and families, and the number of children and families interacting with the care system is expected to rise.
What is this new report about?
The report is based on interviews with parents who have come into contact with the “care system,” as well as practitioners who work within it.
- what happens to family finances when a child enters the care system in Scotland, and
- how this impact on finances affects family reunification.
- It contains a series of short-term and long-term recommendations to mitigate against these negative financial consequences— including recommendations around policy, service provision and funding.
- And it highlights the reality of what losing financial supports can mean in the context of a cost-of-living crisis. Through sharing the experiences of individual families, it illustrates the impact of a sudden and significant drop in income.
How does this report relate to keeping the promise?
The Independent Care Review was clear that families should stay together when it’s safe for them to do so.
This report discusses what might change, to help increase the chances of this happening.
It’s not just about finances, but about making sure families get the help and support they need.
They need to get alongside practitioners early.
And they need to experience a system that works with them— not against them.
Fraser McKinlay, CEO of The Promise Scotland, said:
“I am pleased that The Promise Scotland has been able to support this important research carried out by OPFS. It addresses a blind spot in the system about what happens to family finances when a child or children are unable to live at home and are taken into care.
“The research highlights the negative impact that this can have, and families that are pushed further into poverty are less likely to be reunited. This runs contrary to the core message of the promise, which asks Scotland to better support families to keep children at home wherever it is safe to do so.
“The promise will not be kept unless more is done to address the pervasive impact of poverty upon Scotland’s children and families. The Promise Scotland stands ready to work with all stakeholders, at Scotland and UK level, to support the work required to implement the recommendations.
“All families experience difficult times and need help to navigate troubled waters. I expect this research, and most importantly its recommendations, to be absorbed and acted upon so that effective scaffolding is built up to support families, allowing all of Scotland’s children to thrive.”