by Kinship, the national charity for kinship carers in England and Wales.

Foster Care Fortnight, run by our friends at The Fostering Network, is here and provides an important opportunity for employers to think about how they support the diverse families in their workforce.

The importance of supporting kinship carers

18% of all approved foster carers are kinship carers – these are the grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, siblings and other relatives and friends who step up to raise a child when their parents can’t. Kinship care often happens suddenly, in a moment of crisis, and provides an important opportunity for a child to live with someone they have an existing connection with, who can offer them love and permanence to help them thrive.

Many kinship carers can find their lives change overnight and often need additional support, understanding and flexibility from their employer. We know, having spoken to employers across the country – from SMEs to FTSE100 companies – that organisations understand that to attract and retain the best candidates and to live their own values, they must invest in supporting family-friendly policies and recognising families come in different shapes and sizes, as do caring responsibilities.

Our top tips for employers to support kinship carers in their workforce:

1. Raise awareness and signpost to support

The first step to supporting kinship carers in your workforce is showing you recognise them. Despite more than 130,000 children living in kinship care in England (across a number of arrangements, including kinship foster care, Special Guardianship Orders, Child Arrangement Orders and informal arrangements), many kinship carers tell us they feel invisible.

Including information on your intranet or in internal communications about kinship care helps them feel more recognised and will help their colleagues understand what kinship care is. Kinship Care Week in October is a great time to do this!

You can also include information signposting kinship carers in your workforce to Kinship’s Kinship Compass – a hub of information, advice and support designed with kinship carers for kinship carers.

2. Consider your existing policies and make them inclusive

Ensure your existing policies around family flexible working are as inclusive as they can be. There may be policies that explicitly refer to kinship carers to ensure they can access the same organisational entitlements as parents and/or adoptive parents, for example, if you have a paid dependents leave policy.

3. Introduce paid kinship care leave

Whilst we recognise not all organisations will be able to make any additional financial commitments, we encourage you to consider how you can introduce paid kinship care leave.

The gold standard approach would be to offer paid kinship care leave as an equivalent to what you offer colleagues for adoption leave. Some organisations that aren’t able to financially commit to this have introduced shorter periods of paid leave, which still make a significant difference to kinship carer colleagues.

4. Become a Kinship Friendly Employer

Join our Kinship Friendly Employer Scheme – a free, self-serve scheme providing the tools and resources to take steps 1-3 above and work with Kinship to promote your organisation as a Kinship Friendly Employer. The scheme is open to employers of all sizes and sectors and has a tiered approach, which means you can be recognised as a Kinship Friendly Employer at the level your organisation is able to commit to.

You can also check out the Fostering Network’s equivalent Fostering Friendly Scheme, which seeks to support employers in developing policies and practices specifically for foster carers in their workforce.

5. Join us in calling for the Government to introduce statutory paid leave

Kinship has long called for the Government to underpin the great work many employers do to support kinship carers in their workforces by introducing statutory paid leave on a par with adoption leave.

If your organisation would like to support us in making the case to the Government, please email us at

Individuals can also join the 13,000 people who have already supported Kinship’s Value Our Love campaign, calling for better support and recognition for kinship carers, including paid kinship care leave by telling your MP to support kinship carers.

Kinship is the national charity for kinship carers in England and Wales. Using their experience, expertise and strength to change lives, they support kinship carers in their homes and communities, giving advice and helping them work through problems to find the best way forward.