Kinship carers, including those in the Borders, now fear their financial support will be cut after MSPs voted for new legislation.
MSPs last week ignored pleas by the Scottish Kinship Care Alliance for amendments and passed the final stage of the Children and Young People Bill, as it stood.
This will reduce the number of children with ‘looked after’ status which is needed to qualify for the kinship allowance.
Instead, youngsters will be placed on a kinship order, which does not qualify for the same level of financial support. The Alliance claims relatives and friends who accept responsibility for youngsters, rather than see them go into care, save taxpayers £600 million annually.
But it claims the new legislation fails to tackle the ‘postcode lottery’ which leaves the level of allowances to the discretion of local authorities.
Kinship Carers are friends or relatives, usually grandparents, who take permanent care of a relative child - usually grandchild - when the parents are unable to care for them.
This is often due to alcohol or drug addiction, mental health problems or bereavement.
Speaking ahead of the MSPs’ vote, Alliance vice-chair and kinship carer, Tina Hendry, said children in kinship care were being discriminated against and left in poverty as their carers struggle to cope.
However, Cabinet Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning, Mike Russell, along with David Blair, Head of Looked After Children policy, met with representatives of the Alliance, assuring them the organisation will be involved in developing secondary legislation for the Kinship Care Order as part of the new bill.
Commenting on the MSPs’ vote, an Alliance spokesperson told The Southern this week, the result had been disappointing.
“Alliance members who were in the debating chamber said they were disgusted by the level of debate they witnessed, saying it was like something from a school playground,” she said.
Asked for its view, Scottish Borders Council Social Work Department said the new bill recognises and compliments the support the council already provides to kinship carers and the children they look after.
“Kinship carers are entitled to ask us for support. If you are a kinship carer–or think you might become one–you should contact your local Integrated Children’s Services office or telephone Scottish Borders Council on 0300 100 1800,” added the department.